Monday, August 12, 2013

Together, shoulder-to-shoulder

During his recent visit at the Tibet University in Lhasa, Yu Zhengsheng spoke of improving the quality of teaching, of training of high-quality personnel with independent entrepreneurial spirit.
Yu also stressed the need to improve people's livelihood as an important criterion to measure the quality of development. The Chairman of the Small Group on Tibet seemed to put a lot of emphasis on the development of vocational education, 'bilingual' education [Chinese and Tibetan], so that people of all nationalities [meaning the Tibetans too] share the results of reform and development.
At another venue, speaking to the CCP's cadres, he said that the fruits of development should more and more benefit the masses. The grass-roots party organizations should be strengthened to continue to carry forward the 'old Tibetan spiritual [civilization]'. And while speaking of strengthening patriotic [Communist] education, he emphasized again on the development of 'bilingual' education and the improvement the educational level.
Are policies changing?
When Chen Kuiyuan was Party Secretary in Tibet (1992-2000), at a Party meeting, he is said to have told his colleagues that the ultimate threat to China (its separation from Tibet) is the Buddhist faith of the Tibetans. Before Chen's tenure, the level of Tibetan studies used to be relatively good.
After Chen became Party Secretary, everything changed. Tibetan text books were banned. Only the Chinese curriculum was allowed; it had to be translated into Tibetan; All courses had to be conducted according to the Chinese curriculum.
Chen Kuiyuan saw the unique Tibetan culture heritage as a threat to separate Tibet from China. So, he systematically eliminated Tibetan culture from the curriculum.
I was told that a few years later Party Secretary Zhang Qingli (2006-2010) convened a meeting with Han officials only. The Central government had asked Zhang to make some suggestions. For the education, Zhang is said to have made the following suggestions to the Central Government: Chinese language should be the first language; it should be taught from Kindergarten. Then, all schools should emphasize about learning the importance of China and all monasteries should become like in the mainland, just museums with very few monks as caretakers. It was accepted by Beijing.
Is the discourse is different today?
It is interesting that Yu speaks of 'dual education'.
However hard facts seem to remain the same.
The Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy reported last week that
a well-known Tibetan singer was detained in Lhasa, on suspected charges of singing a 'politically-subversive' song at a musical concert.
The video is posted above.
Here are the lyrics:
Fellow Tibetans
We must learn Tibetan
Speak Tibetan
To learn them is our responsibility,

Fellow Tibetans
We must unite
We must unite
All the three traditional provinces of Tibet must unite,

Fellow Tibetans
We must build courage
Thinking about the years and months of joy and suffering
We must build courage,

Fellow Tibetans
We must allow joy and suffering to speak up
Thinking about Tibet’s future path
We must search for the path,

Fellow Tibetans
We must uphold our patriotism
Upholding patriotism
Let’s march forward
Together, shoulder-to-shoulder.
According to TCHRD, Kelsang Yarphel was detained on 15 July 2013 in Lhasa and taken to a detention centre in Chengdu city in Sichuan Province where he still is.
TCHRD further says: "In October and November 2012, Kelsang Yarphel and some pther Tibetan musicians and singers organised a musical concert called Khawei Metok. At the concert, Kelsang Yarphel performed a song titled Bhodpa Tso (Fellow Tibetans) whose lyrics were deemed ‘politically subversive’ by the Chinese authorities. The DVDs made out of the songs performed at the concert were distributed distributed widely in Tibetan areas in Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan and Yunnan provinces. A month later, the Chinese authorities enforced a ban on the sale and distribution of the DVD many of which were confiscated.
Before his detention in Chengdu, Kelsang Yarphel was detained and interrogated several times in Lhasa."
Kelsang Yarphel is very popular among the Tibetan public, it is perhaps what the Party did not like.
It is true that Yu Zhengsheng does not approved of the Dalai Lama's proposal of 'Greater Tibet'. Yu said that it "runs counter to China's Constitution, the law, and the fundamental interests of Tibetan Buddhism."
But what is ironic is that Yu Zhengsheng pronounced similar words about 'dual education' and Tibetan characteristics when he visited Kham (Kardze) in January 2013 and Amdo (Gansu) last July.
Yu probably wants the Tibetans to speak their language, but he don't not want to see them 'shoulder to shoulder'.
It is called the Great Han Chauvinism.

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