High Peaks Pure Earth has translated an anonymous letter that appeared on a Tibetan blog on October 19, 2010, this was the time when Tibetan language protests were taking place in Amdo.
The letter was posted onto this blog on TibetCul but had already been removed just two days later. The blogpost does not provide any details or commentary on the 10 points contained in the letter. The blogger has just made a note that he copied the posting from somewhere else on the internet.
Writing letters or petitions to the central government is not an uncommon way to air grievances in the People’s Republic of China today and it is a method of appeal that Tibetans have used consistently over the past few decades. Perhaps the most well-known examples would be the tenth Panchen Lama’s secret 70,000 character petition written to Mao Zedong in 1962 and Baba Phuntsok Wangyal’s series of letters to Hu Jintao.
However, ordinary citizens have also been delivering petitions to the authorities, memorably last year in December 2009, it came to light that over 30,000 Tibetans had signed a petition in defence of imprisoned Tenzin Delek Rinpoche.
*Update* Thanks to a reader with an astonishingly good memory, it has been pointed out that this letter first appeared on a TibetCul blog in April 2008 and was featured on China Digital Times. Do check the CDT link for interesting comments that also appeared on the blog in response to the post. The blog that it appeared on now seems to be completely devoid of content: http://tibetanwishes.tibetcul.com/ It is interesting that the post suddenly reappeared at a relevant time when Tibetan language was very much on the minds of Tibetans… and it’s also worth noting that this time it lasted less than 48 hours online.
I think that as long as you are Tibetan, this will evoke your heartfelt sympathy:
- We hope that a standard Tibetan will be agreed upon (86% of Tibetans believe that the Lhasa dialect should become standard Tibetan). In order to solve the problems of Tibetans coming from different regions communicating with each other, it is extremely important to agree on a standard Tibetan.
- We hope that the state recognises education diplomas issued by Tibetan monasteries. Monastery education has a long history in Tibet and is guided by a comprehensive education system. Many outstanding Tibetan scholars have graduated from monastery schools. Because the state does not recognise these schools, graduates are unable to find work at private schools or public work units, which results in institutions of higher learning lacking Professors and talented personnel. Doram degrees should be referred to as Bachelor degrees, Tsokram degrees as Master degrees and Lharam as PhDs.
- We hope that one standardised education model will be implemented in the entire Tibetan region (apart from Mandarin as a language, all other subjects should be taught in Tibetan). In some areas this has already been achieved and it has presented good results. As a result of language barriers, students have previously been unable to follow the classes. For example: when a teacher uses Tibetan to ask how much 1+1 is, all students would know that it is 2. If he asked the same question in Mandarin, would students know what the teacher was talking about? Some refer to these students as the world’s youngest translators.
- We hope that Tibetan folk music, traditional art, Tibetan history and other related subjects would all be incorporated into the music, art, and history curriculum of schools in the 5 Tibetan provinces.
- We hope that in places and cities where Tibetans live and congregate, Tibetan schools and universities will be established. For work-related reasons, many Tibetans have to move to and live in the cities. Many of them face problems sending their children to school. They would like their children to learn Tibetan and about Tibetan culture but there are no Tibetan schools. This is true for Xining (Qinghai), Chengdu (Sichuan), Lanzhou (Gansu) and Kunming (Yunnan). I only know of one school called “Tibetan Primary School” in Kangding (Sichuan) but it offers hardly any Tibetan classes. We all hope that the state can establish some Tibetan universities in those areas.
- We hope that the state will establish Tibetan as the main language used in government institutions in the Tibetan regions. Now, in most government departments, the main language is not Tibetan, but Mandarin. For example, meetings are all conducted in Mandarin and all important documents are written in Chinese.
- We hope that the state will promote more Tibetan TV channels. The current most popular channels are the Tibet and Qinghai channels, which both use Tibetan. Yet the problem is that they cannot be received in certain areas, hence, we hope that the state can start up more Tibetan TV channels in Sichuan, Gansu or Yunnan and especially in the Tibet Autonomous Region, where we ordinary people really enjoy watching channels broadcasting specifically Tibetan programs.
- We hope that classes about Tibetan culture and history will be offered to Tibetans who are sent to China to study.
- We hope that the state will train more Tibetan skilled workers.
- We hope that all examinations in Tibet can be taken in Tibetan, for instance for civil servants or those wanting to work for a public institution. Currently, most exams in the Tibetan region are taken in Mandarin. Thus only very few Tibetan students take part, which makes it very difficult for the language of our people to develop and expand.