The United States and some western countries have been stepping up pressure on China to stop the repression of the ethnic minorities in Tibet and other parts of the country. It even included a diplomatic boycott of the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing. Yet, the Chinese government is allegedly targetting Tibetans. Tibetans and global human rights activists have claimed that the Beijing government’s repressive activities are aimed at diminishing Tibetan culture. The inhuman treatment includes demolition of monasteries and Buddha statues, banning Tibetan flags, invoking land rights etc. All this has led advocacy groups and governments to express serious concerns and think of measures to stop the repression of Tibetans and their old culture. Many countries have already decided not to send their officials to Beijing in protest.
A few weeks ago, a 99-foot statue of Maitreya Buddha at Gaden Namgyal Ling monastery in Tibet’s Drago was demolished on frivolous grounds such as lack of fire escape in the building. Satellite images have confirmed the demolition. Notably, Chinese authorities had permitted to build the statue. However, they invalidated the approval document and brought military forces for the demolition activities. They also tore down 45 prayer wheels and a Tibetan monastic school, and they detained and beat up many people, who have expressed their disapproval and protested in a peaceful manner. Among the detainee were monks and women. One such woman protestor was tortured by pouring cold water on her in subzero temperature conditions while one monk was seen with damages to his eyes.
Tibetans communicating with the people outside China are punished severely even if topics of discussion are harmless and pose no threat to China’s security whatsoever. It makes it difficult for the reports about human rights abuses to reach Tibetans living outside China. One such Tibetan said “Chinese authorities have again given unbelievable reasons for the destruction… these aren’t valid excuses. The Chinese government is just continuing to Sinicize Tibet’s religion by not allowing Tibetans the freedom to practice their own religion and faith.” Pema Gyal, a researcher at London-based Tibet Watch, said the real intention of the Beijing government was to “monitor and control the thoughts of local Tibetans” through efforts like forcing them to hoist Chinese flags and to place communist leaders’ portraits in their homes. “There are huge concerns regarding how the Chinese government conducts these political education sessions for Tibetan nomads,” Gyal said.
China is using coercive policy to compel Tibetans to leave their religion and switch to Chinese ways of life, said Human Rights Watch (HRW). The Chinese language has been made compulsory for school teachers, local officials, vocational trainees as well as kindergarten students. Tibetan nomads are forced to replace their prayer flags with China’s national flag, which is seen as an effort to eradicate Tibetan cultural and religious practices. Tibetans flags installed on the hilltops are being removed saying they were not good for the environment. HRW China Director Sophie Richardson said China was tightening its grip on Tibetans to suppress both the freedom of movement and freedom of expression. The Beijing government has made sinicization of Tibetan religion and language its foremost priority, said Tenzin Dorjee, former commissioner of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom.
Several advocacy groups have been making appeals to government and businesses for measures that compel Beijing to stop human rights abuses against ethnic minorities in Tibet and elsewhere in the country. International Campaign for Tibet has urged US broadcaster NBC to include repression in Tibet when Beijing Olympics is covered. Some protestors in Germany urged Allianz, a multinational financial service giant to drop sponsorship of the Beijing Olympics. The appeals to boycott the Beijing Olympics are intended to dissuade global businesses and governments to not being complicit in the Chinese government’s crimes against human rights.
The US has expressed “deep concerns” over the repression of Tibetans. “We’re also seeing abusive practices including arbitrary arrest and detention, censorship, restrictions on freedom of movement, restrictions on peaceful assembly, and interference in the veneration by Tibetan Buddhists of their religious leaders, including His Holiness the Dalai Lama,” said US Under Secretary of State Uzra Zeya. US, Australia, the UK, Canada, and Japan have announced the diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics. Some countries including New Zealand, the Netherlands have not joined the movement by the US officially but have decided not to send their government officials citing Covid-19. Now advocacy groups are urging other major countries like India, Switzerland, and Germany to join the diplomatic boycott.