Dharamshala: “The Chinese government continued its pervasive control and suppression of Tibetan Buddhism”, says the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom’s 2021 Annual Report released on 21 April.
The report referred to Tibet where it states the restrictions put in place on various religious activities including banning Tibetan students and government workers from participating in traditional religious gatherings and punishing those who listen to the teachings of His Holiness the Dalai Lama or possessing his portrait.
It mentions the policy to “sinicize” Tibetan Buddhism as emphasized by the Chinese Communist Party’s General Secretary Xi Jinping during the Seventh Tibet Work Forum held in August 2020. It also refers to the CCP’s tightening of restrictions on the monasteries and temples, including Yarchen Gar in Sichuan Province – where it locked out worshippers from entering these sites.
Some of the key findings of the report:
- Chinese authorities have barred Tibetan students and senior officials from participating in religious gatherings and activities. Tibetans are detained and punished for listening to the teachings of the Dalai Lama or keeping his portrait.
- Outside Tibet, in September 2020, the United States authorities arrested a Tibetan NYPD officer, reportedly working for the CCP, for spying on the local Tibetan diaspora community for China. Similar incidents of surveillance targeting Tibetans in the diaspora also took place in Sweden, Switzerland, and Canada.
- Honed and refined at home on Uighurs and Tibetans, China’s digital authoritarianism has attracted repressive regimes worldwide that may seek to replicate a “China model” in their own countries that could result in religious freedom violations.
- While the CCP remains unapologetic to its brutal human rights policies, other countries around the world stood up to its repression of Tibetan Buddhists and people of other faiths.
- As defined by the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA), the report recommends the State department redesignate China as a “country of particular concern” for its policies targeting religious freedom
- It encourages and pleads the Biden Administration to enforce the Tibetan Policy and Support Act to the fullest extent.
- It calls on the administration to publicly expresses concerns about Beijing hosting the 2022 Winter Olympic Games and states that the U.S. government officials will not attend the games if the Chinese government’s crackdown on religious freedom continues
- The administration is recommended to promptly nominate a well-qualified special coordinator for Tibetan issues. The U.S. Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues leads U.S. efforts to promote meaningful dialogue between the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Dalai Lama or his representatives on Tibetan autonomy;
No recommendations on the Panchen Lama’s enforced disappearance
The report, however, overlooked the enforced disappearance case of Tibet’s 11th Panchen Lama Gedhun Choekyi Nyima. The Chinese government abducted the Panchen Lama, who is one of the highest religious leaders of Tibet when he was only 6 years old in 1995. Since then the Chinese government has held him in secret detention, along with his family and Chadrel Rinpoche who headed the search committee to identify reincarnation. In two days the Tibetan communities and supporters across the world will mark Panchen Gedhun Choekyi Nyima’s 32nd birthday on 25 April. Next month, on 17 May, it’ll be the 26th year of his enforced disappearance.
The full USCIRF report can be viewed here.
– Filed by UN, EU and Human Rights Desk/DIIR