November 2, 2010

Tibet: Disconcertment Over New Religious Regulations

New religious regulations announced by Beijing prompted reactions of indignation amongst Tibetan Buddhists. The planned legal changes were interpreted as violations of religious freedoms and curtailment of Tibetan tradition.

Below is an article published by the Central Tibetan Administration:

The heads of the schools of Tibetan Buddhism and the Central Tibetan Administration's Department of Religion and Culture today [27 October 2010] strongly repudiated a regulation imposed by the Chinese government aimed at undermining Tibet's traditional Buddhist culture.

The State Administration for Religious Affairs of the People's Republic of China, which issued the so called “Regulation on the administration of Tibetan Buddhist Monasteries or Order No 8”, said the measure will come into effect on 1 November [2010].

Addressing a press conference this morning [27 October 2010]  at Gangchen Kyishong in Dharamsala, Venerable Tsering Phuntsok, Kalon for the Department of Religion and Culture, said the new regulation is in total violation of the provisions of the Chinese Constitution, which guarantees that "citizens of the People's Republic of China enjoy freedom of religious belief”.

“No state organ, public organisation or individual may compel citizens to believe in, or not believe in, any religion; nor may they discriminate against citizens who believe in, or do not believe in, any religion. The state protects normal religious activities. No one may make use of religion to engage in activities that disrupt public order, impair the health of citizens or interfere with the educational system of the state. Religious bodies and religious affairs are not subject to any foreign domination,” said Kalon Tsering Phuntsok quoting from the Chinese Constitution.

“Going against the above provisions of the Chinese Constitution is a proof of the fact that the citizens of the People's Republic of China do not at all have religious freedom and that the country is ruled by man and not by law,” he added.

Kalon Tsering Phuntsok said: “The religious heads and scholars of Tibetan Buddhism as a whole are, currently, living outside Tibet. Hence, the lineage of the sacred Buddhist teachings and initiations can be said to be existing in the exile Tibetan community.”

“This regulation is an evil design on the part of the Chinese government to obstruct the Buddhist teaching and its sacred transmissions inside Tibet and makes it extremely difficult for the monastic institutions to undertake their important religious activities,” he further said.

"This is also a means employed by the Chinese government to not only destroy the tradition and study of Tibetan Buddhism but also uproot the monastic institutions and the transmission of Buddhist teachings in these centers of learning by diluting the spiritual bond between teacher and pupil," he added.

“While, therefore, repudiating “this injunction” of the Chinese government, we express our strong opposition to it,” Kalon Tsering Phuntsok said.