Would you like to know what postive action the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is taking to support and protect the Tibetan language? We would too, especially as today is International Mother Language Day, which aims to highlight the importance of peoples linguistic and cultural diversity. The threat to languages it ranks as: vulnerable, definitely endangered, severely endangered and critically endangered.
We ran an online search ‘UNESCO concerned about Tibetan language’ and could find no reference, variants were used and still no results showed. It appears the global champion of linguistic diversity doesn’t regard Tibetan as under any danger. Yet the evidence coming from occupied Tibet has documented the increasing marginalization of Tibetan, threatened by mass-colonization of Chinese speakers. While Tibetans who seek to protect their language are jailed and the informal teaching of Tibetan by monasteries was banned December 25 2018
Equally disturbing is that across Chinese run schools in occupied Tibet children are increasingly not being educated through the medium of Tibetan but bullied into learning the language of their persecutors.
None of these facts seem to concern UNESCO or Mr Chris Mosely, editor of its report: Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger 2010 in which Tibetan does not appear as an endangered language The online interactive version of that supposedly authoratitive report is not running, and for some reason it’s been difficult to locate a downloadable PDF version.
We wonder also what Norway’s Ministry Of Foreign Affairs, which partnered the UNESCO report, would think about the indifference towards the considerable threats to Tibet’s language? The Norwegian capital of course proudly hosted the Dalai Lama to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in which he highlighted to Norway’s political establishment, the assault upon Tibetan culture arising from China’s occupation of Tibet.
The ongoing offensive against the Tibetan language is born from a political ideology which ultimately seeks to eradicate Tibetan cultural identity. From its founding communist China embraced the Marxist theory which held ethnic culture and nationalism as a temporal anomaly which would finally be replaced by a unified proletarian culture. Within the context of its occupation of Tibet the Chinese regime applied such dogma with a particular ferocity, that process is intensifying, with the nationalistic addition of regarding China as being the center of civilization.
To realize these ambitions China’s authorities are seeking to eradicate the Tibetan language and in so doing remove any sense of a distinct Tibetan identity. Yet UNESCO instead of raising concerns to the Chinese government lauds China’s dictator, Xi Jinping and appoints his wife as a Special Envoy. It’s been said elsewhere that such international programs can be used by states in a cynical way to further policies of cultural domination and eradication. A warning which is being wilfully ignored by Director-General, Audrey Azoulay and her colleagues!