Tibetans forced to denounce the Dalai Lama

Tibetans the world over celebrated the 88th birthday of His Holiness The Dalai Lama on 6 July 2023. On the occasion, the Dalai Lama expressed the hope that he would be able to go back to his homeland in his lifetime. The Dalai Lama, who now lives in exile in India, says only that he seeks a greater autonomy for Tibet as a part of China, with guaranteed protections for Tibet’s language, culture, and religion. However, the People’s Republic of China has long regarded the Dalai Lama as a “separatist” intent on splitting Tibet, a formerly independent nation that was invaded and incorporated into China by force in 1950, from Beijing’s control. That is why they have sought to control Tibetan Buddhism. The latest episode reflecting this trend is a Radio Free Asia (RFA) report that claims that Chinese authorities in Tibet are randomly searching monasteries and forcing monks to sign documents renouncing all ties to the Dalai Lama.

Last year, China directed that all Tibetans working in official government positions should renounce all ties to the Dalai Lama as a pre-condition for employment. More recently, they have included monasteries under this rule. Beginning this month, Chinese authorities conducted searches of monasteries in Shentsa (Shenzha, in Chinese) and Sok (Suo) counties on the premise of maintaining security RFA’s Tibetan Service reports. In a photo received by RFA from Tibet, the Shartsa monks are seen signing their names on a board on the wall. The text on the board states that “We will rigorously take part in opposing the Dalai Lama clique and will remain loyal and devoted to the country [China].” “The authorities search all the residences of the monks and the main shrines in the monasteries,” the exile said. “The monks of Shartsa Monastery are also forced into renouncing ties with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and be a part of anti-Dalai Lama groups.’

As part of their searches, the authorities have been scrutinizing the monks’ prayer manuscripts and books, and removing prayer flags from shrines, said another exiled Tibetan, who declined to be named. “They did not give any sort of warning before conducting these random searches,” said the second exile. The monks in these monasteries were summoned for a meeting where they were forced to sign documents renouncing the Dalai Lama and separatism.” In occupied Tibet, any sign of loyalty to the Dalai Lama can be met with arrests, lengthy sentences, torture, violent crackdowns and ‘re-education’ programmes. Despite 70 years of China’s oppressive occupation, Tibetans remain fiercely loyal to their spiritual leader. China strongly criticises the Dalai Lama both inside and outside Tibet. It accuses him of seeking to rule Tibet and being a “splittist” who seeks Tibetan independence. His image is banned inside Tibet and Tibetans may be jailed for calling for his long life or publicly praising him. In jail, as well as in religious institutions, Tibetans are frequently ordered to denounce the Dalai Lama.

The Chinese Communist Party’s control over Tibetan religion, culture and identity is all pervasive. The regulation over monasteries and monastic life goes back to 2012 when Chen Quanguo announced that government or party officials would be stationed in almost all monasteries permanently, and that in some cases they would have the senior rank and pay of officials in the provincial-level government. Over the years, the Chinese state has promulgated various regulations to bring Tibetan

monasteries and monastics under tighter control of the state, including oversight of financial affairs of monasteries. Controls on Tibetan Buddhist monasteries was tightened in June 2022 with the coming into force of China’s “Measures for the Financial Management of Religious Activity Sites.” This legal instrument, to control the finances of religious activity sites replaced the “Measures on the Supervision and Management of Financial Affairs for Religious Activities (Trial)” promulgated in 2010. Religion is one of the main targets of the Chinese government, which promotes a complete Sinicization of Tibet. Monastic institutions, monasteries, and nunneries are kept under the strict control of the authorities. Innumerable monks and nuns have been forced to disrobe and to live their lives as commoners, surrendering their rights to further practice Buddhism or to promote it.

The other related development of concern in Tibet in recent years is the forced recruitment of Tibetans into the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Recently, China issued instructions to their senior commanders to induct at least one soldier from each Tibetan family and turn them loyal towards the country as well as keeping a check on their families. This recruitment started after Chinese aggression in Galwan in eastern Ladakh in 2020 and has continued since then, with substantial resistance and resentment amongst the affected families. Inputs suggest that there are 7,000 active Tibetan military personnel in the PLA, of which around 1,000 Tibetans, including about 100 females, enrolled in Special Tibetan Army Units. Last year, reports also indicated that the PLA was actively recruiting Tibetans and Nepalis from the Tibet Autonomous Region who are well-versed in Hindi for both interpretation and intelligence-gathering jobs along the Line of Actual Control. Tragically, the PRC does not bother too much about international treaties and legal obligations to protect the human rights of Tibetans or for that matter any of its ethnic minorities. The International Day in Support of Victims of Torture as proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1997 is annually celebrated on 26 June. Additionally, the PRC signed the Convention Against Torture (CAT) in 1986 and ratified it in 1988. Therefore, China is obligated by the CAT to ensure the prevention and elimination of torture. Yet in Tibet, illegally occupied by China, torture is widespread and routinely used by the Chinese authorities against dissent, including by monks. The challenge for Tibetans is that to retain their identity and culture, there is only one the Dalai Lama who is the locus of this activity. Given the Dalai Lama’s age and health, it is therefore imperative to think of the future of the Tibetan community worldwide and the need for an alternative leadership. Most importantly, as China prepares to appoint its own Dalai Lama, the future of the institution needs to be preserved outside Chinese control. Unless this is done, Tibet and Tibetans will continue to be under the Chinese jackboot.

Source: https://www.rfa.org/english/news/tibet/monks-06262023173433.html
https://www.outlookindia.com/website/story/world-news-china-offers- glimpse-of-tibetan-life-without-the-dalai-lama/385308

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