Climate of total 24-hour surveillance as restrictions intensified for Tibetan Buddhist festival in Lhasa

May 25, 2018

The Chinese authorities are imposing unprecedented restrictions this year for the Saga Dawa (the holy fourth month for the Tibetan Buddhists) in Lhasa, with officials on 24-hour watch for Tibetans engaging in devotional activities, according to the Chinese state media.

China does not allow Tibetans who are Communist Party members to take part in religious activities, but this year the ruling is being enforced much more strictly than before in a political climate of total surveillance. An announcement on May 25, 2018 by the Chinese English-language Global Times stated that this year there is “enhanced supervision of order and public security during the festival by assigning officials 24 hours a day and prohibiting Party members from taking part in the Saga Dawa religious activities”. Also, an order in eastern Tibet asked parents not to participate in or take their children to monasteries or religious events during this period.

A professor at Tibet University, Xiong Kunxin, was cited by Global Times as saying that the security measures, which were already rigorous, "have improved, especially in important and crowded places during the festival such as the Potala Palace.” The Jokhang Temple in Lhasa is of profound significance as a place of pilgrimage during the entire month of Saga Dawa, on the 15th of which the birth, enlightenment and death of the Buddha is believed to have taken place.

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