-By Tsewang Gyalpo Arya for The Japan Times
Since the occupation of Tibet in 1950, the Chinese Communist Party has persistently distorted historical facts to interfere in Tibetan religious matters.
This includes the process to select the reincarnation of the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, who is now 88 years old and whose international popularity has kept his people’s plight alive on the global stage.
Buddhists believe that an enlightened being and highly accomplished master may consciously propose to be reborn for the benefit of others. In Tibet, this is known as tulku and the system is deeply embedded in its religious culture. Among the many reincarnated masters respected and revered by Tibetans, the Dalai Lama is the highest spiritual leader, or lama.
To gain total control over this foundational pillar of Tibetan culture and interfere in the reincarnation process, China issued Order No. 5 in 2007 and, last year, Order No. 19. These laws are a gross violation of Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 36 of the Chinese Constitution, which protect religious freedom.
The CCP is avowedly atheist and possesses no belief in the concept of life after death. “Religion is poison,” Mao Zedong said during one of his early meetings with the 14th Dalai Lama, in the 1950s. Soon after, China started destroying a total of over 6,000 monasteries and nunneries throughout Tibet. The destruction of statues of the Buddha, closure of the Larung Gar and Yachen Gar monastic centers in 2016 and 2019 respectively, and demolition of Drago Monastery’s school in 2021 are but a few instances of continued religious persecution.
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