The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) 2023 Annual Report released on May 15 showed a marked rise in religious repression in the People’s Republic of China over the previous year and noted that under Xi Jinping, who advocates a Marxist atheist state ideology, the situation had gotten progressively worse.
The annual report observed that reports by official and non-governmental groups had shown the imprisonment and torture of Tibetans, Catholics, Protestants, and Buddhists, as well as the placement of almost one million Muslims in detention facilities and the organ harvesting of Falun Gong followers. It further said that clergy appointments and worship services were now entirely under the supervision of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
The study details charges of “forced disappearances, arrests, physical abuse, and prolonged detentions without trial of monks, nuns, and other persons due to their religious practices” about the situation in Tibet.
According to the report, China has continued to refuse to engage in negotiations with the Dalai Lama’s representatives in order to address and resolve the situation in Tibet.
It alluded to the fact that China demanded that members of the church and representatives of the Tibetan administration repudiate the Dalai Lama.
According to the study, China “continued to place restrictions on the size of Buddhist monasteries and other institutions and to implement a campaign begun in 2016 to evict monks and nuns from monasteries.” This included evicting thousands to tens of thousands of monks and nuns from their homes.
Authorities forbade kids from traveling on pilgrimages or attending traditional religious festivals during school breaks, according to the article, and warned parents and monks that continuing with monk-led lessons may result in the suspension or detention of their social security payments.
The following was specifically mentioned in the report: “Authorities also continued to force monasteries to display portraits of [CCP] leaders and required Tibetans to replace images of the Dalai Lama and other lamas in their homes with portraits of CCP leaders, including former chairman Mao Zedong and General Secretary and President Xi Jinping.”
“The Dalai Lama’s images were outlawed, and there were severe penalties for owning or displaying his image.”
The report claimed that authorities also required clergy and government workers to swear allegiance to Gyaltsen Norbu, whom Chinese leaders appointed as their own Panchen Lama after kidnapping Gedhun Choekyi Nyima—the 6-year-old recognized as Panchen Lama by the Dalai Lama—on May 17, 1995. This is one of the most pressing issues for Tibetan Buddhists.
The report repeated the US stance and rejected China’s desire to choose its own reincarnate as the next Dalai Lama, stating that “Decisions on the succession of the Dalai Lama should be made solely by the Tibetan people, free from interference.”
A danger to the very survival of the Tibetan language and culture, according to the research, is China’s forced separation of over one million Tibetan children from their families and enrollment in separate boarding schools where they are taught Mandarin Chinese via a curriculum centered on Chinese culture.
A number of Tibetans self-immolated last year, and the study also said that there were more over 700 political detainees in Tibet as of November 2022, according to the International Tibet Network.
During a ceremony at the State Department, the report was presented by Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Rashad Hussain.