Tibet: US Encourages Chinese Government to Respect Religious Freedom
In its annual report on international religious freedom released
on 17 November, the US government has said it "continues to
be concerned for the preservation and development of the Tibetan
people's unique religious, cultural, and linguistic heritage and the
protection of their fundamental human rights."
Below is an article published by Tibetan UN Advocacy:
Dharamshala: The report documented comprehensive accounts of
restrictions on religious freedom, abuse of religious freedom, forced
religious conversion and the US government's efforts encourage greater
religious freedom in Tibet. (Read full report on Tibet)
According to the report, "the level of religious repression in the
Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and other Tibetan areas remained high.
Government control over religious practice and the day-to-day
management of monasteries and other religious institutions continued
to be extraordinarily tight since the spring 2008 outbreak of
widespread protests and unrest in Tibetan regions."
"These restrictions included forcing monks and nuns to undergo
extensive "patriotic education" in monasteries and nunneries that
included significant amounts of "legal education" which detracted from
religious studies. In patriotic education sessions, authorities often
forced monks and nuns to denounce the Dalai Lama and to study
materials praising the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)
and the socialist system. Monks and nuns fled from their monasteries
and nunneries because they faced expulsion for refusing to comply with
the education sessions. Overall numbers of monks and nuns in
monasteries and nunneries remained at significantly lower levels than
pre-March 2008," it said.
The report criticised the Chinese government for using rules and
regulations to control Tibetan religious traditions. "Rules and
regulations provided a legal basis for government control over Tibetan
religious traditions. The Management Measures on Reincarnation, issued
by the State Administration for Religious Affairs, codified government
control over the selection of Tibetan religious leaders, including
reincarnate lamas," it said.
The report said as of 1 September 2010, the Congressional Executive
Commission on China's Political Prisoner Database records 824 Tibetan
political or religious prisoners believed to be currently detained or
imprisoned. Of those 824 Tibetans, 479 (approximately 58 percent) are
Tibetan Buddhist "religious professionals" (monks, nuns, and tulkus).
At the end of the reporting period, many monks and nuns remained in
detention because of their involvement in the March 2008 protests.
Several monks also reportedly committed suicide as a result of the
harsh conditions and religious restrictions in monasteries that were
imposed after March 2008, the report said.
According to numerous sources, many of those detained were subjected
to extrajudicial punishments, such as beatings and deprivation of
food, water, and sleep for long periods. In some cases detainees
reportedly suffered broken bones and other serious injuries at the
hands of People's Armed Police (PAP) and Public Security Bureau (PSB)
More than 80 nuns reportedly were detained in Sichuan Province after
March 2008 and their whereabouts were still unknown.
Limited access to information about prisoners and prisons made it
difficult to ascertain the number of Tibetan prisoners of religious
conscience or to assess the extent and severity of abuses, the report
The US government encouraged the government and local authorities to
respect religious freedom and allow Tibetans to preserve and develop
their religious traditions. US diplomatic personnel visited the TAR
five times during the reporting period. TAR officials often restricted
US diplomatic personnel's ability to talk openly with persons in
Tibetan areas. The US government protested religious persecution and
discrimination, discussed individual cases with the authorities, and
requested further information about specific incidents, the report
The US government continued to urge government leaders to engage in
constructive dialogue with the Dalai Lama and his representatives and
to address policies in Tibetan areas that have created tensions due to
their effect on Tibetan religion, culture, and livelihoods, as well as
the environment, it said.
"...Every year, the State Department prepares a comprehensive review
of the status of religious freedom in countries and territories around
the world. We do this because we believe that religious freedom is
both a fundamental human right and an essential element to any stable,
peaceful, thriving society," Secretary Hillary Clinton said in her
opening remarks during the release of the report.
"This is not only the American view; it is the view of nations and
people around the world. It is enshrined in the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights, it is protected by the International Covenant on
Civil and Political Rights, and it is guaranteed by the laws and
constitutions of many nations, including our own," Clinton said.