Dalai Lama Criticizes Chinese Restrictions on Tibetan Language

Dalai Lama Criticizes Chinese Restrictions on Tibetan Language

The spiritual leader of Tibet, the Dalai Lama, criticized the Chinese government's plans to end the use of Tibetan as a primary language of instruction.

The Dalai Lama told reporters in Japan Saturday that the Tibetan language is very rich and Tibetans love their language and are proud of it.

He said China's plans to restrict the use of the Tibetan language in schools has led to demonstrations in China.

"Tibetan translations of Buddhist literature are considered very authentic. Chinese authority has imposed the Chinese language as medium of instruction in Tibetan schools which caused the demonstrations. Politically we are not seeking separation. Tibetan language, Buddhist philosophy, science and religion is very rich. We love our language and we are proud of our language," the Dalai Lama said.

Tibetans have staged rallies in Qinghai province with crowd estimates ranging to several thousand. Hundreds of teachers in northwest China also signed a petition last month urging provincial authorities to drop their plans.

Officials in Qinghai have defended the plan to make Chinese the primary language of instruction, saying it is intended to help the Tibetans to better integrate into Chinese society.

But many Tibetans feel their unique language and customs are in danger of being lost as more and more Han Chinese move into traditional Tibetan areas. Qinghai has a large population of ethnic Tibetans.

The Dalai Lama Saturday also repeated his support for jailed Chinese dissident and fellow Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo. He said Liu is trying to bring more openness and accountability to China, which he said is good for the country in the long run.

The spiritual leader is in Japan to take part in a meeting of Nobel Peace prize winners in Hiroshima beginning next week.

The Dalai Lama fled Tibet in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule. He says he is not seeking independence for Tibet, just greater autonomy. China considers him a separatist.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters, Dalai Lama.com, JapanToday and IANS