Chinese authorities are refusing to issue passports to a group of young Tibetans who have received approval for study in Japan and the U.S., leading some to stage protests outside provincial government offices to highlight the discrimination, sources said.
The students, coming mostly from poor nomadic families in northwestern China’s Qinghai province, had been selected in July based on test scores and were set to attend schools in Japan and Washington state in the U.S., a local source told RFA’s Tibetan Service this week.
“On July 8, representatives arrived at the Girls’ School of the Tibetan Pastureland to recruit students for an American school called Skagit Valley College,” the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“Verbal and written tests were conducted for those girls who graduated this year, and 42 students passed the tests and were selected to study abroad in the U.S.,” he said.
On July 9, a second group of 34—21 from the Girls’ School of the Tibetan Pastureland and 13 from the Qinghai Institute of Nationalities—was selected to study in Japan, the source said.
“Of these, some have already left for Japan,” he said.
Now, authorities in China have denied passports to the rest, RFA’s source said.
“On Sept. 2, one group, mainly girls, protested this unfair treatment in front of [provincial capital] Xining government offices, demanding that they be allowed to go, too.”
The students argued that if the children of high-ranking officials are permitted to travel for study abroad, students coming from “common families on the grasslands” should be allowed the same rights, he said.
Speaking to RFA on Friday, a source close to the Girls’ School of the Tibetan Pastureland confirmed that the students had not been allowed to travel.
“The story is true,” he said, adding, “I am still hopeful that the students can get passports to study abroad if their issue is not politicized by the authorities.”
The Girls’ School of the Tibetan Pastureland was established in September 2005 in Machen (in Chinese, Maqen) county of Qinghai’s Golog (Guoluo) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture “for girls in nomadic areas who have reached school age,” a local source said.
The school’s founder, a local Buddhist leader, also founded other schools and social-service groups in the area, the source said.
Calls on Friday seeking comment from Skagit Valley College, a two-year community college serving three counties in northwestern Washington State, were not returned.
Reported by Lumbum Tashi and Dorjee Tso for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.