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Tibetan monks holding classes for children will be punished, China warns

Local authorities in Tibet warn lessons in monasteries are prohibited

Chinese authorities have prohibited Tibetan children from attending language classes in monasteries in Nangchen county, eastern Tibet, according to a local government notice obtained by Tibet Watch.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which has ruled Tibet since 1950, has warned monks and parents that holding classes in the monasteries is a danger that will be “dealt with.”

The government order titled: “Urgent notice concerning stopping illegal study classes in monasteries,” follows another in May 2018 which warned citizens not to celebrate the Tibetan holy month of Saga Dawa, Tibet Watch said.

The notice, published in December 2018 said, “with careful attention, the holding of classes by monasteries must be rectified and strictly prohibited… Those monasteries and monastics who follow their own wishes and do not listen to advice must be strictly held accountable.”

Authorities must understand the “harmful nature" of monasteries running open schools and “hold the fort of ideological education for children and youth, firmly uphold the leading role of the Party and government in education,” the order added.

China sees Tibetan religion as dangerous because it differentiates Tibetans from the united identity that the government in Beijing is trying to promote across China. The CCP has been accused of overseeing the erosion of the language.

Government schools no longer teach Tibetan, and monasteries are among the few places in the country where children can learn about Tibet’s traditional language and culture.

The notice called for monasteries to investigate and “deal strictly” with assemblies of primary and middle school students being taught Tibetan and ordered them to explain reasons for holding classes to authorities.

It said monastics who are found to be responsible for running prohibited classes will be struck off the monastery register with their ID cards identifying them as a religious professional removed.

Those cases would be announced in the public community to “serve as a warning,” the notice said, adding that, “at the same time, the ideological education of parents and children must be improved, so as to reduce the strength of opposition in society.”

Tibetan children in a classroom (Credit Jim McGill)

Tibetan children in a classroom (Credit Jim McGill)