Tibet has seen a rapid decline in many of its aspects that, at one point in the past made it stand out as a well-known nation after its illegal occupation by China in the year 1950s. The lack of human rights in Tibet has become a common issue that has and is in need of immediate attention and help. Tibetans in Tibet are living under the authoritarian and strict regime of the Chinese Communist Party. They don’t have access to the basic human rights, be it the right to life and liberty, freedom from torture, freedom of opinion and expression and the right to education. They are monitored under the strict surveillance of the Chinese authorities and are barred from having the freedom to practice their own religion, language, tradition and culture. The repression of religion has escalated over the decades and this constant attack on Tibetan Buddhism and its practices will remain an integral part of China’s bigger scheme of the complete sinicization of Tibet. Tibet has already seen the destruction of numerous religious institutions, monasteries, nunneries and relics. Monks and Nuns in Tibet are forced to disrobe and to live life as commoners that ultimately lead to them being robbed off the rights to practice or learn their religion.
In January 2022, a 99-foot tall statue in Drago (in Chinese, Luhuo) country in the Kardze (Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture was demolished along with 45 traditional prayer wheels set up for use by Tibetan pilgrims and other worshippers. This news got out and made headlines since the act was carried out with baseless accusations without taking the hard work of the Tibetan people into consideration. Eleven Tibetans were later beaten and arrested by the Chinese officials for spreading the news of this destruction and were sent to labour camps in the region. After this incident in January, another Tibetan Buddhist statue was destroyed. It was reportedly the statue of Padmasambhava, also known as Guru Rinpoche. It was three-stories high at the Chanang Monastery in the same region of Drago. Satellite imagery confirmed the destruction since an image taken on 3rd October, 2019 showed the site of the statue whereas an image taken on 25th February, 2022 showed the demolition of the statue as specified by the circular objects on the ground.
Radio Free Asia (RFA) recently learned of information regarding how officials in the western Sichuan province are forcing Tibetan monks to take the blame and sign affidavits to claim responsibility of the demolition of the sacred statues in Drago done by China. RFA’s earlier reports showed how the move to destroy these sacred statues lead to a series of widespread condemnation of the communist party’s forced act. This being taken seriously by the international community has led to the Chinese government now playing it safe by accusing the Tibetan monks in Drago for the destruction of the Buddhist statues and also compelling them to sign documents to prove their false fact. RFA has also been able to learn of how the security in the area has been tightened due to which they were unable to gather more information regarding the punishments that the monks will be inflicted with if they denied and refused to sign the documents. The local Tibetans and monks are however being harassed and kept under the strict radar of the Chinese officials.
Situations as such have become a common issue in Tibet. The number of political prisoners in Tibet has also increased drastically over the years due to China’s oppressive rule and false convictions. Some are released after years of torture in the worst state possible while many end up losing their lives in the prisons or with their families getting no information about their whereabouts. Gendun Lhundrub, a Tibetan writer and poet was arrested in the year 2020 without his whereabouts ever being revealed to his family. News came out recently regarding him being detained in a prison in Siling (in Chinese, Xining). He was monitored by the Chinese authorities for signs of political dissent before being detained but was later arrested on 2nd December 2020 while he was on his way to attend a religious debate in Rebgong. His family members had no information about him or the condition that he was in. In 2021, they received a phone call about how his trial would end soon but that hasn’t happened still. The detaining of Tibetan writers and artists who are seen as threats to the Chinese rule and who promote the Tibetan national identity happens more frequently than ever.
The Tibetan language and religion is seen as the major threats due to which any such act for the mere practice or promotion of it is considered as a major setback by the Chinese communist party in their ultimate goal of the Sinicization of Tibet. Targeting any aspect related to the Tibetan religion is seen as a necessary action for their beneficial and security. The forced demolitions of Buddhist institutions, statues and relics will continue until there is none left in Tibet. Tibetans will continuously be stopped from practicing their religion or in expressing their respect and faith towards His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. The widespread schemes of repression and oppression against religion will remain so. It is saddening indeed but it should also garner the help and support that it is in need of. Raising Tibet’s issue on the international platform has been the main struggle of the Tibetans fight for freedom. Tibet’s state has degraded over the decades and the brutality calls for immediate help. China will continue to cause such chaos and violate all the standards of humanity if not called out or held accountable for all their ill deeds.