China implements measures to appoint political monks in guise of spiritual teachers

New measures to control Buddhist monastic teachers was approved at during the second session of the eighth council of Buddhist Association of China held on 25 November 2012.

New measures to control Buddhist monastic teachers were approved during the second session of the eighth council of Buddhist Association of China on 25 November 2012.

In the past weeks, there has been persistent speculation on ‘experimental’ moves by the Chinese authorities to overturn some of its decades-old vilification campaign against the Tibetan spiritual leader, His Holiness the Dalai Lama. A handful of Tibetan monasteries in the Tibetan provinces of Amdo and Kham, located respectively in present-day Qinghai and Sichuan provinces, were given verbal permission to display portraits of the Dalai Lama and worship him as a religious, and not as a political figure. According to these verbal orders, monks and nuns are no longer required to denounce the Dalai Lama, which is an essential component in political education classes in Tibet’s monastic institutions.  Major international media outlets heralded this as a change in China’s Tibet policy.

Only a few days later on 28 June 2013, China’s State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA), the highest official body that regulates all recognised religions in the People’s Republic of China, denied any reversal of its long-standing policy on the Dalai Lama. [Read more...]

Tibetan farmer escapes imminent arrest for sharing religious texts

Ugyen Lhundup, 57, was a farmer at Thangka Village in Kardze (Ch: Ganzi) Township in Kardze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province. In 1999, he came to India and lived for some time to study Buddhism. In 2001, after attending the Kalachakra teachings at Bodh Gaya in the north Indian state of Bihar, he returned to Tibet taking along some CDs and books containing religious teachings, which he shared with others on requests from friends and relatives. He also made free copies of the CDs and distributed them among his social circle. It was then that he became a prime target for supervision and surveillance. On 21 October 2012, to escape imminent arrest, he left his house and farm in the care of his neighbor, and secretly left Tibet and reached India on 15 December 2012. Ugyen Lhundup shares his ordeal:

“In 2002, the head of County Public Security Bureau officer, Loga, summoned me at his office. At the PSB office, the officer confiscated my passport and threatened me with five to six months’ detention, if I did not stop questioning the confiscation of my passport. I was let go but without my passport.  [Read more...]

Amdo Ngaba monk sheds light on repression in Tibet

Lobsang Samphel, 25, was born in Tsoduk nomadic village in Ngaba (Ch: Aba) County in Ngaba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, in Amdo province. He became a monk at 13 and joined Gomang Monastery, which had over 900 monks prior to 2008. Lobsang Samphel saw first-hand the deaths of unarmed Tibetan protesters from police firing at a protest in Ngaba County town. He reached in exile in India in November 2012. He shares his story with TCHRD:

“After the widespread protests in 2008 in Tibet, the Chinese authorities appointed 25 permanent staff at Gomang Monastery, to carry out ‘patriotic education’ and oversee the entire teachings and administration at the monastery. Restrictions on day-to-day affairs have since increased at the monastery, posing great obstacles to the monks. Beginning 29 March 2008, the Chinese authorities launched an intensified three-month ‘patriotic education’ campaign at Gomang Monastery. The objectives of the campaign were to oppose and condemn ‘splittist cliques’ and ‘Dalai clique.’ Monks undergoing political education classes had to sit for exams every ten days, finding the correct answer for sensitive political questions such as ‘Is the Dalai clique responsible for ‘splitting’ the Chinese Motherland or not?’ Such derogatory remarks and baseless allegations against our root spiritual teacher filled our hearts with anguish and we felt as if our hearts have been wounded.
[Read more...]

12 monks arrested for opposing “patriotic education” campaign

Chinese security forces arrested twelve monks of Dingri Shelkar Choedhe Monastery during a night raid for opposing the “patriotic re-education” campaign on 19 May 2008, according to confirmed information received by the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD).

The Chinese authorities re-launch and reinvigorate the “Patriotic re-education” campaign in the “Tibet Autonomous Region” (“TAR”) and other Tibetan areas in neighboring provinces for a stipulated two-month period covering almost every sections of society beginning primarily with the monastic institutions, party cadres, security forces and government employees, farmers and private entrepreneurs, educational institutions and common people, to denounce the Dalai Lama and the “Splittist forces”. [Read more...]

China conducts massive ‘patriotic education’ campaign in Lithang

Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) received confirmed information that the Chinese government has just unleashed a massive patriotic political campaign in Lithang.

According to confirmed information, in the first week of September 2007, the Chinese government summoned the leaders of townships and monasteries in and around Lithang to commence the Patriotic Political Education Campaign.

Similarly, the concerned offices and officials summoned the Tibetan people from the Lithang Monastery to receive political education. The Tibetan people were made to learn by the Chinese officials about how the aristocrats, officials and serfs of the old pre-1959 Tibet subjected the Tibetan commoners to oppression, torture and servitude. The campaign included telling Tibetans how the Chinese liberation of Tibet has empowered the Tibetan commoners to rise up and to hold denunciation sessions (Tib: Thamzing) to those serfs who had oppressed and suppressed them. [Read more...]

Mass silent protest in Tibet’s Drepung Monastery following China’s continued implementation of “patriotic education”

Drepung Monastery in Lhasa, Tibet’s capital is currently under intense restrictions following a crackdown order issued by the “Tibet Autonomous Region” (“TAR”) government authorities on monks sitting on mass silent protest, according to confirmed information received by the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD). Reportedly the situation is tense and the monastery under tight control by the Chinese authorities.

Since the first week of October 2005, “work team” officials have been conducting the “patriotic education” campaign in the monastery. During the Campaign, on 23 November 2005, the monks were ordered to sign a document denouncing the Dalai Lama as a “separatist” and to pledge their loyalty to the Chinese government by accepting “Tibet as a part of China”. The monks showed their disagreement to the official directive and refused to sign the document. Among the monks, five showed strong reactions against the document and the officials. They were immediately expelled from the monastery and handed over to the Public Security Bureau (PSB) Detention Centres in their respective places of origin. [Read more...]

Tibetan Monks Arrested, Monastery Closed Amid Protests

The People’s Republic of China recommenced implementation of the ‘patriotic education’ campaign in monastic institutions in Tibet, according to testimonies received from Tibetan monks who fled into exile.

There has been a noted rise in the intensity of the campaign, which is being carried out vigorously in the monastic institutions in and around Lhasa City, Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR). Monks who fled Tibet in the aftermath of the campaign reported expulsions of monks from their monasteries.

Three young Tibetan monks, who escaped from Tibet in September 2005, reported conduct of ‘patriotic education’ in June 2005 in their monastery, Talung Monastery located in Phenpo Lhundrup County, Lhasa Municipality, TAR. The monastery which housed around 120 monks reportedly has only 20 monks who are registered with the Religious Bureau. Earlier the monks were issued with five different political literatures to study; two additional literatures were distributed in June 2005. The monks were notified that officials from the County Religious Bureau would arrive in the monastery in July 2005 to conduct examinations. Monks, above 18 years of age, were ordered to condemn the Dalai Lama as a ‘separatist’, and to pledge loyalty to the Mainland China during the next visit of the officials.

Upon learning the pre-requisites set by the authorities for enrollment in monastery, a large number of monks left the monastery voluntarily before the arrival of the officials.

In another instance, in June 2005, the officials from the Religious Bureau visited Gyabdak Nunnery, located in Dzongshul village in Phenpo Lhundrup County, TAR, in June 2005. The officials conducted ‘patriotic education’ and demanded the 50 nuns of the nunnery to pose for individual photographs. Except for six nuns who are members of the Nunnery’s Democratic Management Committee (DMC), the remaining nuns refused to comply with the order. Consequently the officials nullified their enrollment in the nunnery and called for their immediate expulsion. Reportedly the pictures were to be used for official propaganda purposes. The expelled nuns are reported to be staying in their respective homes currently.

In the beginning of April 2005, officials from the Lhasa Religious Bureau began to conduct a three-month long ‘patriotic education’ campaign in Sera Monastery, one of the three great monasteries of Tibet.

The monks were issued six different literatures to study and four education sessions per week were conducted. The literatures were titled ‘Handbook on Crushing the Separatists’, ‘Handbook of Contemporary Policies’, ‘Handbook of Policies on Religion’, ‘Handbook on Law’, ‘Handbook on Ethics for the Masses’, ‘Handbook of History of Tibet’. The monks were subjected to random questions regarding the texts, and an examination was conducted at the end of the campaign in July 2005 to test their knowledge regarding the handbooks and their allegiance to the state. Reportedly 18 monks were expelled out of which eight monks faced detention in the Public Security Bureau Detention Centre.

In another reported incident, which could not be confirmed yet, 13 nuns from Shugseb Nunnery located in the outskirts of Lhasa City were expelled during the conduct of the ‘patriotic education’ campaign in the nunnery. Another monk-refugee from Drepung Monastery in Lhasa who arrived into exile recently reported that the ‘patriotic education’ campaign began in his monastery on the first week of October 2005.

On 31 October 2004, Lobsang Gyurmey, head of the Committee for Patriotic Education in Lhasa, in his opening speech during the weeklong workshop for officials in charge of ‘patriotic education’ in monasteries and nunneries in Lhasa, said, “Patriotic Education should be implemented absolutely in the monasteries and nunneries to prevent separatist activities. Precautionary measures should also be taken to stop the infiltration of literature from the splittist group based in exile.” [Referring to Dharamsala - temporary headquarters of the Dalai Lama.]

The ‘patriotic education’ campaign first started in 1996 forms one of the major causes of religious repression in Tibet. This campaign has created havocs in the life of the clergy and in the monastic community within Tibet. The campaign is used as a tool to stabilize and to exert control over what the Chinese authorities term ‘the hotbed of dissent activities’, referring to the monastic institutions. The forcible implementation of the campaign in garnering loyalty to the state is in direct contravention with many international human rights provisions on religion.

The monastic community is placed in an extremely difficult position either to comply with the Party and commit religious blasphemy or to leave the monastic life clandestinely or out of compulsion. The United States Congressional-Executive Commission on China in its 2005 Annual Report released on 11

October 2005 stated there has been “no improvement overall in human rights conditions in China over the past year, and increased government restrictions on Chinese citizens who worship in state-controlled venues or write for state-controlled publications.” It further stated that “the religious environment for Tibetan Buddhism has not improved in the past year. The Party demands that Tibetan Buddhists promote patriotism toward China and repudiate the Dalai Lama, the religion’s spiritual leader.”

Despite strong criticism from the international community, religious repression under the ‘patriotic education’ campaign continues in Tibet. The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) has documented known expulsions of 11,383 clergy between January 1996 and August 2004 under the ‘patriotic education’ campaign.

A young monk dies under mysterious circumstances following the “patriotic education” campaign in Drepung monastery

Ngawang Jangchub, 28 years old, died in the first week of October 2005 under mysterious circumstances in his quarter in Drepung Monastery, according to confirmed information received by the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD). He was found dead a day after he had a heated argument with “work team” officials conducting the “patriotic education” campaign in the monastery.

The “work team” officials have arrived in the monastery in the beginning of October 2005 to conduct the campaign. As stipulated by the guidelines of the campaign, the monks in the monastery were required to condemn the Dalai Lama as a “splittist” and to pledge their loyalty to the Chinese government. Some of the monks refused to be “educated” and an argument erupted between them and the officials. It is reported that during the argument, Ngawang flatly refused to condemn the Dalai Lama calling him “the saviour for the present and the next life”. He told the officials that he had no regrets, even if he was to be expelled from the monastery.  [Read more...]

Drepung monk Ngawang Samphel re-arrested

A Tibetan monk from Drepung monastery in Lhasa, Ngawang Samphel (33), was arrested in early April 1999 for suspicion of political acts. At present his whereabouts are unknown. This is the second time that Ngawang has been arrested. His first detention in Gutsa Detention Centre was for taking part in a peaceful demonstration on 27 September 1988, with five other monks from Drepung monastery.

On 27 September 1988, Ngawang Samphel and five other Drepung monks, Ngawang Zegen (22), Ngawang Chemey (30), Ngawang Thosam (28), Jamphel Wangchuk (28) and Jamphel Sherab (31) staged a peaceful demonstration in the Barkhor in Lhasa, shouting slogans calling for Tibetan independence. The officials of the People’s Armed Police (PAP) and Public Security Bureau (PSB) immediately arrested them. They were taken to Gutsa Detention Centre, located to the east of Lhasa. While in detention, the six monks were subjected to severe torture. As a result of the torture Ngawang’s friend Ngawang Zegen from Toelung County, died in 1989 approximately one month after his release. [Read more...]