Police harass teachers of former Tibetan-language school in China’s Qinghai province

Police are watching their moves, though the school was closed in July 2021.
By Sangyal Kunchok for RFA Tibetan
Police harass teachers of former Tibetan-language school in China’s Qinghai province Tibetan students from the Sengdruk Taktse School in Darlag county in China's Qinghai province, are seen in an undated photo.
Courtesy photo

Chinese authorities have been harassing the cofounder and teachers who worked at a private school with a Tibetan-language curriculum in China’s Qinghai province that had been shut down in July 2021, Tibetan sources said.

Authorities shuttered Sengdruk Taktse School, in Tibetan-populated Dharlag, or Dali in Chinese, in Golog county, or Guoluo, in Qinghai’s Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, amid a wider clampdown on schools promoting Tibetan culture and offering instruction in the Tibetan language. 

At the time, the students there were told to enroll in Chinese government-affiliated schools in the region that offer a Chinese curriculum, Radio Free Asia reported

Meanwhile, authorities have been surveilling and hounding the school’s cofounder, Khenpo Jigmey Kunga Gyaltsen, and teachers who taught there, said the two sources who declined to be identified for safety reasons.  

“Ever since the Chinese government shut down the Sengdruk Taktse School in 2021, the site has been kept unused,” said a Tibetan from inside Tibet. “All the teachers and affiliated staff from the school are constantly being summoned to the police station for interrogation and kept under tight scrutiny. They are also being monitored for who they meet with.” 

A Tibetan living in exile who has knowledge of the situation said most of the school’s former students are enrolled in Chinese government-run schools.

“Initially, when the government forcefully closed down the Sengdruk Taktse School, they said they were still going to use the school premises for education purposes under the supervision of the Chinese government, but it’s been almost two years, and the school remains idle,” the source said. 

The Chinese government closed down many private schools in Tibet between 2020 and 2021 and forbade the students from paying for outside instruction in the Tibetan language and Buddhist studies. 

About three weeks after authorities closed the school, they detained Rinchen Kyi, who had taught second- and third-graders, and took her to a hospital, citing an alleged mental illness. She was later charged with inciting separatism and arrested at her home, but eventually released in August 2022, RFA reported earlier.

Chinese authorities frequently use the charge of separatism against Tibetans who promote the preservation of Tibet’s language and culture in the face of domination by China’s majority Han population.

The forced shutdown of private Tibetan schools adds to decades-long concerns of shrinking space for Tibetans to exercise their freedom to learn their own language and practice their religion. 

Language rights have become a particular focus for Tibetan efforts to assert national identity in recent years, with informally organized language courses in the monasteries and towns deemed “illegal associations” and teachers subject to detention and arrest, sources say.

Translated by Tenzin Dickyi for RFA Tibetan. Edited by Roseanne Gerin and Malcolm Foster.


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