Tag Archives | religious freedom

State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report for 2017 says China Continues to deny Religious Freedom in Tibet

May 29, 2018

The State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report for 2017 states that in the Tibetan areas, the Chinese “authorities continued to engage in widespread interference in religious practices, especially in Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and nunneries. There were reports of forced disappearance, physical abuse, prolonged detention without trial, and arrests of individuals due to their religious practices. Travel restrictions hindered traditional religious practices and pilgrimages.”

The report, released in Washington, DC on May 29, 2018, by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and US Ambassador for International Religious Freedom states that the “primary sources of grievances among Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns included the requirement that all monks under the age of 18, who are legally unable to join monasteries and Buddhist religious institutions, undergo “patriotic education”; strict controls over religious practice; and intrusive surveillance of many monasteries and nunneries, including the permanent installation of CCP and public security officials and overt camera surveillance systems at religious sites and monasteries.”

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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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USCIRF report recommends re-designating China as a Country of Particular Concern and advocates for passage of the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act

April 27, 2018

In a scathing annual report, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) found that Tibet under Chinese rule has increasingly come to resemble a police state. The Commission recommends that the United States government re-designate China as a Country of Particular Concern, use the Global Magnitsky Act against Chinese officials and agencies responsible for human rights abuses, appoint a Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues, and pass the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act.

Characterizing China’s strategies towards Tibet as ones of “antagonism and hostility,” the Commission describes pervasive controls on the practice of Tibetan Buddhism and heightened interference at the Larung Gar Buddhist Institute, culminating in the eviction of almost 5,000 monks and nuns. The report covers China’s increasingly concerted efforts to isolate the Dalai Lama and punish Tibetans for expressing loyalty to him:

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UN Human Rights Council informed that China’s revised regulations on religion are a further threat to survival of Tibetan Buddhism in Tibet

March 2, 2018

In a statement delivered on behalf of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights at the ongoing 37th Regular Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on March 2, 2018, ICT’s Kai Mueller drew the Council’s attention to China’s revised regulations on religion, in effect since February 1, 2018, are a further threat to the continued survival of Tibetan Buddhism in Tibet.

Speaking under Agenda Item 3 “Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development”, he said that in November 2016, six UN special mandate holders expressed their “grave concern” over the “serious repression of the Buddhist Tibetans’ cultural and religious practices and learning” in the Buddhist institutes of Larung Gar and Yachen Gar.

He said that the Council should ask China to “refrain from intervening with religious activities that are protected by principles of freedom of religion or belief.”

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China’s revised religious regulations threaten survival of Tibetan Buddhism

September 18, 2017

  • Revised Chinese government regulations on religion consolidate far-reaching powers of the Communist Party state over people’s lives and beliefs, and are a further threat to the continued survival of Tibetan Buddhism in Tibet.
  • The revised rules on religious activity, issued by the Chinese State Council on September 7, 2017, conflate peaceful religious practice with ‘threats’ to China’s security, creating a more dangerous political environment for monks, nuns, and lay Buddhists, isolating them further from their counterparts outside China.
  • According to a newly revised provision of the regulation – and in an apparent attempt to use religion to achieve political goals of the Communist Party – religious groups are now bound to practice “core socialist values.”
  • The Chinese state media also announced a focus on the ‘Sinicization’ of religion, stating: “The direction of religions is to integrate them with Chinese culture” (Global Times, September 7, 2017). The Buddhist community is one of the main targets of ‘Sinicization’ of religion, which represents a more far-reaching effort to mould and shape Tibetan Buddhism to the diktats of the Chinese Communist Party in line with a more entrenched regulatory framework that has already deepened religious oppression over the last decade.
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ICT Vice President Bhuchung Tsering’s statement at the Roundtable on “Tibetan Buddhist Today”

September 15, 2017

Following is the prepared statement by ICT Vice President Bhuchung Tsering at the Roundtable on “Tibetan Buddhist Today” held by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom and the International Religious Freedom Roundtable at the United States Congress on September 15, 2017. Other participants of the Roundtable were Dr. Tenzin Dorjee, USCIRF Commissioner; Sarah Cook, Senior Research Analyst for East Asia, Freedom House; and Tina Mufford, Senior Policy Analyst, USCIRF. Judith Golub, Director of Congressional Affairs & Policy and Planning, USCIRF, moderated it.

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International Campaign for Tibet Statement on China’s revised religious regulations

September 8, 2017

China’s revised regulations on religious affairs passed by the State Council this week intensify controls over religious activity and present a further threat to Tibetan Buddhists.

The updated version of rules put in place in 2005 passed by the Chinese government on Thursday (September 7) should be assessed against the background of a series of laws that can be viewed as a systematic development of a security architecture. Among those are the 2015 Security Law, the NGO Law (in force January 2017), the 2016 Counter Terrorism Law, and the Cyber Security Law (in force May 2017). These laws represent the Chinese Communist Party’s will to gain maximum control over every aspect of people’s lives.

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New US report says traditional monastic system continued to decline in Tibet

Reports of forced disappearance, physical abuse, prolonged detention, and arbitrary arrest of people due to their religious practice

August 15, 2017

The State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report for 2016, which was released on August 15, 2017 by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, says the Chinese “authorities engaged in widespread interference in religious practices, especially in Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and nunneries”.

The report says, “Across the Tibetan Plateau there were reports of forced disappearance, physical abuse, prolonged detention, and arbitrary arrest of people due to their religious practice, as well as forced expulsions from monasteries, restrictions on religious gatherings, and destruction of monastery related dwellings, according to media reporting and human rights organizations.”

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State Department International Religious Freedom Report, 2016

The State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report for 2016, which was released on August 15, 2017 by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, says the Chinese “authorities engaged in widespread interference in religious practices, especially in Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and nunneries”. Read the full report online at the U.S. Department of State’s website » China (includes […]

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U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom Highlights Tibet in 2017 Annual Report; Recommends Designating China as “Country of Particular Concern”

April 26, 2017

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) released its 2017 Annual Report on April 26, 2017, in which it said “…conditions for freedom of religion or belief and related human rights continued to decline.” Focusing on Tibet, the report highlights several major violations of religious freedom in Tibet, including the eviction of “thousands of monks and nuns from the Larung Gar Buddhist Institute in Tibet before demolishing their homes.” The report also noted the lack of accountability on China’s part regarding the whereabouts of the Panchen Lama.

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State Department International Religious Freedom Report, 2015

The State Department released its International Religious Freedom Report for 2015 on August 10, 2016. The following is its section on Tibet highlighting the state of religious freedom of the Tibetan people. The report says, “The U.S. government repeatedly pressed Chinese authorities at multiple levels to respect religious freedom for all faiths and to allow […]

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US Commission on International Religious Freedom releases its 2016 annual report, finds continued crackdown and suppression of Tibetan Buddhists

May 3, 2016

On May 2, 2016, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), an independent, bipartisan U.S. government advisory body, released its 2016 Annual Report. Shortly before the release of the Report, the State Department redesignated China as a “country of particular concern” (CPC). A CPC is defined as a country that engages in or tolerates “particularly severe” religious freedom abuses; such violations are “systematic, ongoing and egregious,” and can include torture, arbitrary detention, disappearances, or “other flagrant denial of the right to life, liberty, or the security of persons.” The State Department has designated China as a CPC since the inception of the CPC mechanism in 1999.

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US Governments highlights lack of religious freedom for Tibetans in its annual report

October 16, 2015

On October 14, 2015, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry released the 2014 Report on International Religious Freedom. In his remarks, Secretary Kerry stated: “The message at the heart of this report is that countries benefit when their citizens fully enjoy the rights to which they are entitled.” Kerry further urged “the release of men and women destined or imprisoned anywhere in the world for the peaceful expression and practice of their religious beliefs.”

The report’s section on Tibet states that in the TAR and other Tibetan areas, “authorities severely restricted religious freedom and engaged in widespread interference in religious practices, especially in Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and nunneries.”

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State Department International Religious Freedom Report, 2014

Read the full report online at the U.S. Department of State’s website » China (includes Tibet, Hong Kong, and Macau) – Tibet EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The constitution of the People’s Republic of China states citizens enjoy “freedom of religious belief;” however, it limits protections for religious practice to “normal religious activities” and does not define “normal.” […]

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U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom: China imposes “harsh policies of repression on Buddhists” across Tibet

May 1, 2015

In its just issued 2015 Annual Report, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) states that China imposes “harsh policies of repression on Buddhists” across the Tibetan plateau and recommended that the U.S. State Department re-designate China as a “country of particular concern” (CPC), where “particularly severe violations of religious freedom” are perpetrated or tolerated, and to take additional actions to promote religious freedom in China.

The report, released on April 30, 2015 in Washington, D.C., documents religious freedom violations in 33 countries, makes country-specific recommendations, and assesses the U.S. government’s implementation of the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA). In a statement, USCIRF Chair Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett, said:

“With serious religious freedom violations occurring all around the world, these horrors speak volumes about how and why religious freedom and the protection of the rights of vulnerable religious communities matter. All nations should care about abuses beyond their borders not only for humanitarian reasons but because what goes on in other nations rarely remains there. In the long run, there is only one permanent guarantor of the safety, security and survival of the persecuted and vulnerable. It is the full recognition of religious freedom.”

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Praying and lighting butter-lamps for Dalai Lama ‘illegal’: new regulations in Rebkong

April 14, 2015

  • New regulations issued in the Rebkong (Chinese: Tongren) area of eastern Tibet warn that various activities, including praying and lighting butter-lamps for the Dalai Lama or people who have self-immolated, are ‘illegal’ and will be penalized.
  • The measures, which appear to be guidelines for county officials mandated by higher-level authorities, enable criminal charges to be imposed for everyday and often devotional activities. They are the latest indicator of the political climate of impunity and the severity of repressive measures being imposed across Tibet, particularly in areas where there have been peaceful protests or self-immolations, such as Rebkong county.
  • The measures heighten the dangers for Tibetans in the area, who have sought to protect their cultural and religious identity and traditions with courage and resilience. Furthermore, they contravene China’s own constitution and legal provisions meant to preserve and promote the distinct identity of groups such as the Tibetans.
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State Department International Religious Freedom Report, 2012

Read the full report online at the U.S. Department of State’s website » China (includes Tibet, Hong Kong, and Macau) – Tibet EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The United States recognizes the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and Tibetan autonomous prefectures and counties in other provinces to be a part of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).The constitution of […]

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State Department reports religious freedom “deteriorated markedly” in Tibet in 2012

The State Department’s Annual Report on International Religious Freedom, released on May 20, said that the Chinese government’s respect for and protection of religious freedom in Tibetan areas “deteriorated markedly” in 2012, with a substantial increase in official interference in Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and nunneries. “Official interference in the practice of Tibetan Buddhist religious traditions […]

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