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Mass student protests results in injuries and arrests PDF Print E-mail
[30 November 2012] On 26 November approximately 1,000 students in Chabcha, eastern Tibet demonstrated against the Chinese government's repressive policies. The authorities responded with force, resulting in at least 20 students being hospitalised, with five in critical condition, and at least three arrests. A second student protest took place on 28 November, with five arrests reported.

Chabcha student protestThe protest took place by students from the Sorig Lobling medical school (also referred to as the Tsolho Medical Institute) in Chabcha (Chinese: Gonghe) county, Tsolho (Ch: Hainan) prefecture, Amdo (now incorporated into China's Qinghai Province). The students were reacting to a new "political education" drive by the local Chinese authorities, aimed at schools in the area.

As part of the drive, government authorities from Tsolho prefecture distributed a booklet amongst students denouncing the self-immolations and public protests and expounding upon government policies on languages, religion, culture and the environment. The booklet claims the self-immolators are "ignorant" and have failed their parents and society. Protestors are said to have "criminal objectives" and aim to break down civil society. The Dalai Lama is referred to as "as a political itinerant who wants to split the Chinese Motherland and [is] a political tool of Western opposition against China." (Read more from the booklet below.)

Government officials also lectured the students on the need to maintain stability and at the same time condemned the Dalai splittist clique (the Dalai Lama and supporters) for causing unrest in the region and instigating the self-immolations.

Chabcha student protestOn 26 November, students from Sorig Lobling medical school decided to protest against the "political education" drive. At 9am about 1,000 students began a march in the streets of Chabcha. The students called for equality of nationalities, freedom of language, respect for the truth and the establishment a new government.

Armed police arrived about two hours later and used force to disperse the student protestors. Protestors were beaten and shots were fired, though it is not clear if the police fired into the crowd or into the air. At least 20 students were hospitaised, and five students, who were severely beaten, are said to be in critical condition. At least three students have been arrested.

Security forces cordoned off Sorig Lobling medical school, refusing to allow any of those inside to leave. Reports from the following day indicated that students were still being confined to the building. Parents, unable to contact their children, were concerned for their safety.

On 28 November, students from Tsolho Technical School in Chabcha left their school and protested in front of a government building, calling for "freedom" and "Tibetan language rights". According to sources quoted by Radio Free Asia, large numbers of Chinese police arrived at the scene, beat many of the students and used tear gas and "some kind of explosives". Five students were reportedly arrested. It is not clear how many students participated in the protest or if there were any serious injuries.

Since the protests, communication channels with the region have been blocked, making it difficult to get further updates on the situation in Chabcha.

In 2010 thousands of students protested against government plans to implement a curriculum taught primarily in the Chinese language, and remove Tibetan textbooks from schools. Over 2000 students in Chabcha took part in the protests. On 8 and 9 November 2012, thousands of students in Rebkong demonstrated in the streets, calling for freedom for Tibet, equality of nationalities, freedom of languages and for the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet.

Further reading: RFA I TCHRD I VOA I Phayul
(26 Nov)
Phayul (27 Nov) I RFA
(28 Nov) I Take Action


Translation of Booklet
Booklet distributed to Chabcha studentsA copy of the booklet, distributed by Tsolho prefecture government officials, has been tranlated in part by the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy. The booklet is entitled "Ten ways of looking at the present situation in Tsolho Prefecture" and has the following chapter headings:

1. Economic development in Tsolho should be based on what?
2. Is Tibetan culture protected and developed?
3. Are environmental protection and urban construction in opposition to each other?
4. Does bilingual education mean the deterioration of minority language?
5. Who in authority is doing anything to ensure the equality of nationalities?
6. What is the reason behind self-immolation protests?
7. What harm is caused by illegal public protests?
8. Who is agitating for separatism and causing unrest?
9. How should the comprehensive and correct implementation of the freedom of religious belief policy be understood?
10. Is the present environment of development in tranquil harmony not something to be cherished?

The booklet refutes the claim that self-immolators have shouted slogans such as "freedom for Tibet and Tibet is independent, and claims they are "ignorant of the problematic historical background and political causes". Yet the booklet also claims the goals of the self-immolators are to "split Peoples Republic of China and to realize the dream of Tibetan independence." It also says the self-immolators have failed their parents and society and also "belittled the value of human life".

The booklet claims "The so-called Tibet issue is a political conspiracy created by foreign imperialist forces, anti-China forces, and some splittist cliques. It is a pity that the young people who self-immolate do not understand this."

In response to self-immolations and related actions, the government vows to "strike hard" and treat them as "reactionary and terrorist activities".

The Dalai Lama is referred to "as a political itinerant who wants to split the Chinese Motherland and [is] a political tool of Western opposition against China."

The booklet also condemns the public protests as having "criminal objectives", saying they aim to break down civil society and "seriously harm the law and constitution of the PRC".

According to the booklet, the bilingual education policy in ethnic minority regions is of "long-term significance for the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese nation and requires the participation of each student and each family in the region.

Read more about booklet: TCHRD 27 Nov; TCHRD 29 Nov



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