Tibetans Protest in Zachukha over Spoken Language

Thousands of Tibetan students stage protests in Rebkong, northwestern China's Qinghai province, 19 Oct 2010

Around 700 Tibetan monks and nuns from Sershul monastery were stopped by security forces in Tibet’s Zachukha region Monday from marching towards Sershul County demanding "equality" and “freedom of language."

The protests for Tibetan language were sparked off by an incident last month where Chinese government officials including the County leaders and an official from the local United Work Front Department confiscated boxes containing money collected as fine for speaking a mix of spoken Tibetan and Chinese languages in Sershul monastery.

The government officials told the monks to stop levying fine over spoken language.

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

Some information for this report was provided by Phayul