PRESS RELEASE: WUC Stands in Solidarity with Southern Mongolians Defending Language Rights
The WUC expresses its solidarity with Southern Mongolians who have been protesting the CCP’s decision to replace Mongolian with Mandarin Chinese as the primary language of instruction in schools.
Large numbers of Mongolian students boycotted lessons and protested the ban but were met with a repressive, heavy-handed response from the Chinese government. Reports indicate that many students have been arrested in the aftermath of the protests and two parents who refused to send their children to school in protest have reportedly died by “suicide”. The Chinese authorities are reportedly using technology from Hikvision and other Chinese companies, who tested this technology on Uyghurs in East Turkistan, to locate and identify Mongolian students who participated in the protests.
The CCP’s crackdown, failure to listen Mongolian voices and violations of its own constitutions should come as no surprise to those who have been monitoring recent events in East Turkistan and Tibet.
Language is an essential part of the social fabric and identity of any people, encapsulating thousands of years of history and traditions through the spoken word. It forms an important bond between a people or society and structures experiences of the world. It ties generations together with one common thread, and unites the diaspora scattered across the world with relatives and countrymen in their homeland.
The attack on the Mongolian, Uyghur and Tibetan language language is part of a broader campaign of assimilation from the Chinese government. In the past five years in East Turkistan, we have witnessed the implementation of a coordinated and systematic attack on the Uyghur identity. As the Uyghur people possess their own culture, religion, history and ancestral land they have lived on for generations, Xi Jinping sees it as a threat to his power, along with Tibetans and Southern Mongolians. Any competing loyalties are not tolerated and are being stamped out ruthlessly.
Official policy of the Chinese government has focused especially on influencing the younger generation in an attempt to diminish the importance of native language and sever ties to their ethnic identity. The approach appears to have two main focuses: discouraging the use of the language through language bans and ‘bi-lingual’ education classes and encouraging the use of Mandarin Chinese through preferential access to employment, universities and government positions for Mandarin speakers.
In a drastic step, a five-point directive was issued by Hotan’s Education Department in late June 2017 outlawing the use of the Uyghur language for students at all education levels from primary to secondary schools. The ban is in clear violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child as well as China’s own Regional Ethnic Autonomy Law. Similar legislation in Tibet and the recent policy in Southern Mongolia shows the CCP is attempting to forcibly assimilate all ethnic groups.
“The Chinese government seeks to totally assimilate and sinicize all ethnic groups in China by targeting and eroding everything that makes us unique,” stated WUC President Dolkun Isa. “Uyghurs, Tibetans, Kazakhs, Southern Mongolians and others have all seen their language rights stripped away, in violation of the Chinese constitution and international law. We strongly condemn this policy of total assimilation, which constitutes a crime against humanity. Our communities must unite to defend our basic rights and call on the international community to hold the Chinese government accountable.”
This is part of the CCP’s larger aim to create a Han-centric modern China and to brutally stamp out the language, culture, history and ethnic identities of Uyghurs, Southern Monglians, Tibetans and others.
The WUC fears that if nothing changes, the younger generation of Uyghurs, Mongolians and Tibetans will be cut off from their mother-tongue and their culture. This would not only lead to a ‘sinification’ of these people, but the world would lose a truly unique language and culture. It would sever the ties between the people, between older and younger generations and between those under the rule of the CCP and the diaspora.