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European Parliament Condemns Abduction and Indoctrination of One Million Tibetan Children

What China does in Tibet “may amount to genocide,” a resolution passed on December 14 proclaims.

By Marco Respinti

December 18, 2023

After the United Nations, on December 14, 2023, the European Parliament has also condemned the abduction and indoctrination of Tibetan children forcibly taken to Chinese boarding schools.

The resolution starts by stating that “under the leadership of Xi Jinping, the Chinese Government has become systematically and ever more oppressive,” and “the human rights situation in Tibet continues to degrade.”

Then, it presents the facts: “Chinese authorities have established an expansive system of de facto compulsory, highly politicised boarding schools for [Tibetan] children aged 4 to 18, requiring them to undergo mandatory education in Mandarin without any opportunity for substantive study of the Tibetan language, history or culture.” As a result, “approximately 80 % of Tibetan children, totalling around one million, have been separated from their families by this system, which aims to forcibly assimilate them culturally, religiously and linguistically into the Han majority,” and “there are almost no private alternatives to these government schools, which are reportedly heavily surveilled.”

The European Parliament mentions previous findings by the United Nations. “UN experts,” the resolution says, “are concerned that Tibetan children are thus suffering from severe psychological and emotional distress, including loneliness and isolation, and are losing the ability to communicate easily in their native language with their families, contributing to the erosion of their individual and social identity, which violates international human rights and may amount to genocide.”

Although preceded with a “may amount to,” the use of the word “genocide” is highly significant. And there are other genocides, too. Going beyond Tibet, the European Parliament “strongly condemns the repressive assimilation policies throughout China, especially the boarding school system in Tibet, that seek to eliminate the distinct linguistic, cultural and religious traditions among Tibetans and other minorities, such as Uyghurs.”

The European Parliament “calls for the immediate abolishment of the boarding school system imposed on children in Tibet and the practice of family separations, as highlighted by UN experts in February 2023; further calls on the Chinese authorities to allow the establishment of private Tibetan schools. Welcomes the US decision imposing restrictions on visas to Chinese officials tied to the boarding school system in Tibet; urges the Member States and the Council to adopt similar targeted sanctions. Calls on the Member States and the VP/HR to demand that the Chinese Government issue visas to European diplomats to visit boarding schools across Tibet, allow independent journalists and international observers into the region and refrain from spreading fake news. Recalls the importance of the EU raising the issue of human rights violations in China, particularly the situation in Tibet, at all political and human rights dialogues with the Chinese authorities. Reiterates its call on the Chinese Government to reengage with the representatives of the 14th Dalai Lama to establish genuine autonomy for Tibetans within China; urges the Chinese authorities to release the Panchen Lama and refrain from interfering in the designation of the Tibetan spiritual leader.”

It is a brave, complete, and inspiring document. What remains to be seen is whether European Union Member States will take it into account and act consequently, or business interests will continue to prevail over human rights, a sad but unfortunately frequent occurrence when Europe deals with China.


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