DHARAMSHALA: The monasteries and nunneries in Tibet have come under renewed attacks from the Chinese authorities with the launch of a new wave of ‘legal education’ campaign, which a human rights group says severely violates religious freedom of the monastic community.
Dharamsala-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) reported that the so-called Tibet Autonomous Region government held a meeting in capital Lhasa on 11 May for carrying out rigorous ‘legal education’ in Tibetan monasteries and nunneries.
TCHRD quoted TAR governor Pema Thinley announcing that ‘widespread legal education campaigns have been launched in all the monasteries and nunneries in TAR in line with the Communist Party of China’s Central Committee and State Council directives since March 2008’, when unprecedented peaceful protests by Tibetans against the Chinese government shook Tibet.
The rights group said after the widespread demonstrations in Tibet in 2008, control and surveillance on Tibetan monastic institutions have increased with the official work teams permanently stationed in monasteries and nunneries carrying out the coercive campaign.
“It has severely restricted the religious activities of monks and nuns who are arrested and expelled for not complying with the rules and regulations made by the party and government authorities,” TCHRD said.
“Minor monks below the age of 18 had to discontinue their education after they were ordered to leave their monasteries,” it said.
“Regular religious classes are cancelled to accommodate the legal education sessions run by the work teams in monasteries and nunneries. Movement of monks and nuns are severely restricted making it difficult for monks and nuns to go outside their monasteries and nunneries and to visit other sacred monasteries and religious lamas. Sometimes, such restrictions on movement have made it hard for the monks and nuns to purchase their daily necessities including groceries,” it said.
“These restrictions have forced many monks to flee their respective monasteries forcing many monasteries to close down,” it said.
TCHRD further reports that since 2011, Monastery Management Committees have been formed to implement coercive programmes such as Nine Must Haves forcing monasteries to hang the portraits of four Chinese Communist leaders, the Chinese national flag in their compounds and to make available in the respective monasteries newspapers and television programs published and produced by the Chinese government.
“The continued implementation of forced ‘re-education’ campaigns has severely affected the normal functioning of Tibetan Buddhist institutions and the religious freedom of monks and nuns is consistently violated,” it said.
The ‘patriotic re-education’ campaign, which was first started in 1996, is aneuphemism for the Chinese government policy to forcibly re-orient the Tibetan people’s religious faith and belief by requiring to pledge their opposition to His Holiness the Dalai Lama.