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Xinjiang Re-Education Camps Duplicated in Tibet

The BBC reported in July that Lobsang Sangay, the Tibetan president-in-exile, said that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has set up camps in Tibet to hold Tibetans, duplicating the Muslim Uyghur camps in Xinjiang. “We do have these camps but not as large as the Uyghurs, so a lot of people are sent for education through labor, imprisonment, and detention.”

On October 29, 2019, RFA reported on the Tibetan camps in greater detail. RFA interviewed Dawa Cairen, a representative of the Tibetan Executive Central Committee in Dharamsala, India. He explained that the CCP is using “vocational training schools” to brainwash young Tibetans forcibly while calling it “patriotic education.”

Dawa Cairen said that, in 2008, the Chinese government, in the name of national compulsory education, forced almost all Tibetan children to move into boarding schools. The schools isolated those children from their mother culture, that of Tibet. The schools followed militarized management, preventing students from going out and in effect turning the schools into prisons.

The CCP recently discovered a gap in its control of the Tibetan youth. In recent years, many students have graduated from those compulsory education schools. Among them, those who did not get into college went home, to monasteries, or to other places where they could learn traditional Tibetan culture, or such subjects as Tibetan sculpture or Tibetan calligraphy.

The CCP recently rushed to establish “vocational training schools” to gather those young men back under its control. These vocational schools do not have standard offerings. Some just teach whatever the teachers they find are able to teach. “They may teach nursing today, animal treatment tomorrow, and machinery maintenance the day after. There are no real courses.”

“The main things that (those vocational straining schools) teach is the (CCP’s) laws, the religions that are under the CCP’s control, patriotism education, and CCP history. Students must learn, memorize, and take tests on these subjects. The schools give rewards to those who learn these subjects well, such as vacation days to go home.”

Students are required to sing “red songs” (the songs praising the CCP) before each meal at those schools.

Dawa Cairen said that he received reliable information that the CCP had arrested a couple because they sent their child to a monastery after he graduated from the 10th grade. The CCP threatened to sentence them if they wouldn’t take their son out of the monastery, but the parents chose to be sentenced to keep their child in the monastery, because they felt that it was their child’s will to be a monk. Then the CCP arrested the child, and forced the parents to yield.

Dawa Cairen pointed out that some Tibetans have been arrested for running Tibetan-language tutoring classes during students’ summer and winter vacations. One Tibetan who advocated teaching the Tibetan language was even sentenced to five years in prison for “inciting secession.”

The report said that there is a “vocational technical training school” in Lhasa, Tibet. The authorities have asked the governments of the seven counties and one district, all under the jurisdiction of Lhasa, to send their rural youths who might have the rebel spirit to the school for brainwashing education.

The report included a satellite picture of a “vocational technical training school” in Lhasa. [Editor’s note: From the information in that picture, we can see that this school is located in Cainaxiang, 39 km southwest of Lhasa and 25 km north of the Lhasa Airport.]

1. Radio Free Asia, October 29, 2019
2. BBC, July 1, 2019