Geneva : The Twelfth Session of the UN Forum on Minority Issues is being convened at UN Building also known as Palace of Nations (Palais des Nations) in Geneva. This year, the theme of the Forum is “Education, Language and the Human Rights of Minorities.”The Representative of The Dalai Lama Chhime Rigzen, the UN Advocacy Officer Ms Kalden Tsomo and Special Appointee for Human Rights Thinlay Chukki all working at the Office of Tibet, Geneva attended the Forum. They met with the Special Rapporteur with briefings about the deplorable state of Tibetan language in Tibet.
Delivering the oral statement at the Forum Thinlay Chukki highlighted the imposition of policy of monolingualism by China on Tibetans. She stated that Tibetans have been ‘minoritized’ by China in their own land and Mandarin language is being imposed on Tibetans. She further highlighted the retributive policies of Chinese leading to incarceration of language rights advocate like Tashi Wangchuk, the recent arrest of Tibetan monk Sonam Palden from Kirti Monastery and the destruction of Larung Gar and Yachen Gar Buddhist academies which have rendered thousands of monks, nuns and laypersons homeless with no access to study Buddhism in Tibetan language.
Chukki also referenced to the latest self-immolation by 24-year-old Yonten in Tibet and stated that many amongst the 154 self-immolators in Tibet have called for the preservation of Tibetan language. Through the forum, she called upon the Chinese government to adopt effective policies for the preservation of Tibetan language and called for the immediate release of Tashi Wangchuk, Sonam Palden and all other Tibetan language advocates languishing in the Chinese prisons and centres.
She remarked, “Tibetans are deprived of learning their own language on their own land; Tibetans are deprived of teaching their own language on their own land- if this is not human rights violations then what is.”As noted by the Forum, “The rights of linguistic minorities are human rights that must be respected, including in relation to the appropriate degree of use of minority languages. Education in minority languages is fundamental for the protection and promotion of cultural and linguistic diversity and of the human rights of persons belonging to minorities.”