Protecting one’s language is critical to maintaining culture and identity. Like occupying forces in other regions of the world, China’s policies in Tibet are designed to erase the native language, replacing Tibetan with Mandarin Chinese as the main—and often only—language of official communication.
Tibetans from all walks of life, though, continue to creatively fight for their language rights, therefore protecting their culture and identity.
STUDENT LANGUAGE RIGHTS
Supported by teachers and former government officials, Tibetan students take to the streets to protect and expand the use of Tibetan language in schools.
WORKER LANGUAGE RIGHTS
When a new, Chinese-owned hotel in Tibet banned workers from speaking Tibetan, people expressed their outrage online, forcing the cancellation of the policy.
In 2010, the education department of Qinghai Province proposed to change textbooks and classroom instruction from Tibetan to Mandarin Chinese, in direct opposition to the laws of the region requiring the usage of Tibetan language in Tibetan schools. Students took the lead in challenging the reforms, supported by educators, former government officials, and monks. Across the region, thousands of students took to the streets in a series of protests aimed at securing and expanding the use of Tibetan as the main language in Tibetan schools.
SOME TACTICS USED
- MASS STREET PROTEST
- PETITIONS, LETTERS
- LEGAL ARGUMENT
In 2016, Chinese-owned Hotel Shangyun in Rebkong County banned employees from speaking Tibetan while on the job. This was in clear violation of China’s labor laws protecting workers against discrimination based on ethnic group, race, sex, or religious belief.
Online public outcry from Tibetans and Chinese netizens had a major effect and government officials quickly closed the hotel. Hotel management apologized and government officials in Rebkong issued a statement reaffirming laws giving Tibetan language equal and sometimes greater prominence than Mandarin for Tibetan areas. This was an unmitigated victory!
SOME TACTICS USED
- ONLINE ORGANIZING
- PARALLEL INSTITUTION
- DISPLAY OF CULTURAL IDENTITY