The recent closure of two private schools in China for the crime of trying to sustain Tibetan culture is a reminder that Beijing’s war on Tibetans continues.
Radio Free Asia reports that “Chinese authorities have closed two Tibetan private schools in the Gansu and Qinghai provinces and detained at least five staff as authorities moved to restrict assertions of national identity in Tibetan-populated areas of western China.”
The most recent closure is of an orphanage school in Gansu province, and “The reasons given were the school’s focus on teaching Tibetan language, speech, and culture, as well as the composition by the head of the school of a song containing ‘separatist’ contents.” The latter phrase, “separatist contents,” typically means something nice was said about the Dalai Lama. The former head of the school disappeared in early 2011 after being questioned by Chinese authorities, and the two teachers left running the school were detained by the police early this month.
Such actions by Chinese authorities do not make headlines, but they are part of an effort under way since the Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1959 to eradicate Tibetan culture. That disappearances and detentions still occur in 2012 suggests how determined Communist Party leaders are to crush that culture, but equally how resilient it remains and how great is the loyalty of Tibetans to the Dalai Lama–more than half a century after he escaped into exile.