Protests have spread across the Tibet as many students have been angered that the Chinese regime plans to make Mandarin the only language used and taught in schools, according to the activist group Free Tibet on Friday.
The rights group said that the policy has been implemented throughout the autonomous region, including in primary schools. “The use of Tibetan is being systematically wiped out as part of China’s strategy to cement its occupation of Tibet,” Free Tibet said in a statement.
The protests began in Rongwo town, the capital of Rebkong County, on Tuesday. Six thousand Tibetan students from 14 to 20 years old from six schools took to the streets, saying “We want equality of culture,” the London-based rights group reported. In the autonomous prefecture of Malho, 4,000 students protested.
Free Tibet posted pictures of crowds of Tibetan young people protesting and of Chinese troops in neat formations.
“The protests are sparked by Chinese educational reforms which stipulate that all subjects will be taught in Chinese and all textbooks will be in Chinese," Free Tibet said in a press release. “These reforms have already been implemented in other areas across the Tibet Autonomous Region, including in primary schools.”
Tibetans have been sending text messages to each other to support the student protests.
“Tibetan students are protesting for their mother-tongue in the Tibetan areas in Qinghai and others," said one of the texts sent on Friday. “For the sake of saving the Tibetan mother-tongue, please pass the message to each other.”
On Thursday, around 500 middle school students marched to the Shonpongshi township government building and demonstrated in front of the building. The day before, 2,000 students from schools in Chabcha town took to the streets of Chabcha and chanted, “We want back freedom for Tibetan language.”
Tibetans say that the Chinese communist regime, which took over the country in 1959, has encroached upon and further threatens the traditional Tibetan culture and way of life.