Tag Archives | Tibetan Buddhism

Congressman Jim McGovern speaks in House about China’s new controls on Larung Gar Tibetan Buddhist Academy

January 31, 2018

Congressman Jim McGovern took to the floor of the House of Representatives on January 30, 2018 and raised the issue of China’s new administrative controls on the Tibetan Buddhist monastic center of Larung Gar, as outlined in a Human Rights Watch report. Congressman McGovern said, “It is a significant blow to freedom of religion in Tibet and China, and a matter of great concern to all members of Congress.” His remarks are given below along with the Human Rights Watch report.

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Tibetans observe major Buddhist festival despite intimidating presence of Chinese troops

December 18, 2017

Despite intense security with massed ranks of armed paramilitary forces, Tibetans gathered in large numbers last week across Tibet to mark an important Buddhist festival, Ganden Ngachoe, which marks the death anniversary of a prominent Tibetan Buddhist Master Tsongkhapa, the 14th-century founder of Tibet’s largest Buddhist school, the Gelug. The Dalai Lamas belong to the Gelug school. This festival has been observed in Lhasa over the past few years and can be described as a ‘Festival of Light’ as lighting of butter-lamps is an integral part of its observance.

The gatherings for the festival, including at monasteries in eastern Tibet that have been subject to heavy repression, are consistent with a pattern of large numbers of Tibetans marking prayer festivals at religious sites over the last few years despite an intimidating security presence and increasingly pervasive ‘grass roots’ restrictions and surveillance. This trend, demonstrating a spirit of strong resilience and determination to express Tibetan religious identity, is documented in these images of Tibetans gathering on the evening of the Ganden Ngachoe, which fell this year on December 12.

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Major religious festival cancelled and new police checkpoints at Larung Gar

November 3, 2017

  • A major religious festival, the prayer gathering Dechen Shedrub, has been cancelled at Larung Gar institute despite earlier assurances that it would go ahead, according to Tibetan sources. The new development follows the demolition of monastic residences, expulsion of thousands of monks and nuns and the imposition of direct Communist Party control at one of the world’s leading Buddhist institutes in Serthar (Chinese: Serta), Kardze (Chinese: Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan.
  • Checkpoints have been set up on the approach to Larung Gar, indicating the tightened security following the wave of demolitions and the appointment of Chinese Communist Party members to key positions at the institute, the world’s largest center of Buddhist study and ethics, according to new information received by the International Campaign for Tibet.
  • Recent construction work confirms that the Chinese authorities are using the development of tourism as a tool to counter cultural resilience and monastic influence, as the CCP seeks to impose more stringent restrictions in its stated aim of ‘Sinicizing religion’, emphasized at the 19th Party Congress and following the imposition of new religious regulations across the PRC.
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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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Written submission by the International Campaign for Tibet to the hearing “Tibet: Freedom of Religion” by the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission of the United States Congress

July 12, 2017

We thank the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission of the United States Congress for providing us the opportunity to submit this statement for the record on the state of freedom of religion in Tibet.

The International Campaign for Tibet would like to draw attention to the impact of a new set of laws promulgated by the People’s Republic of China on the practice of Tibetan Buddhism.

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Inside Tibet: children banned from prayer during holy month and intensification of border security

June 12, 2017

  • New ruling bans Tibetan children from prayer during holy month
  • Influx of tour guides reveals political agenda
  • Transformation of Dram on Nepal border to base for troops, strengthening border security
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Suffocating religious freedom in Tibet: China’s draft regulations on religious affairs

October 25, 2016

“These tiny hermitages, built from the foundation with money that our parents accumulated, and with the blood and tears of our friends, were where we received transmissions and meditated.”

From “From Larung Gar By Woesel Nyima”[1], an anonymous Tibetan commenting on the demolition of housings at the Buddhist institute of Larung Gar, Eastern Tibet.

In the past months, the Tibetan Buddhist institute of Larung Gar in eastern Tibet has come into the focus of international attention, as Chinese authorities have ordered the demolition of large parts of this authentic place of Buddhist religious life, which over the past years has become a destination for thousands of Buddhist practitioners, from Tibet and China.[2] While the Chinese authorities’ measures at Larung Gar have come under scrutiny by a concerned international public, the Chinese government has drafted a revision of its religious affairs regulations[3] that may have a far reaching effect on Tibetan Buddhism, as it will consolidate the state’s repressive approach towards religious groups.

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Gyaltsen Norbu

Kalachakra with Chinese Characteristics: Chinese appointed Panchen Lama gives teaching as authorities suppress religious freedom

July 29, 2016

The Chinese appointed Panchen Lama, installed by the Chinese government as part of its long-term strategy to control Tibetan Buddhism and eliminate loyalty to the Dalai Lama, has carried out a major religious teaching in Shigatse – the first time a Kalachakra initiation has been held in the Tibet Autonomous Region for more than half a century.

The ceremony highlights the Chinese Communist Party’s efforts to raise the profile of a religious figure they appointed with political objectives, in a climate of intensifying religious oppression and a harsh campaign against the Dalai Lama, which involves preventing Tibetans from traveling into exile to attend his teachings. A major Kalachakra ceremony conferred by the Dalai Lama in exile in Ladakh in 2014 was described by the Chinese state media as “inciting hatred, terror and extremist action”, and many Tibetans returning to Tibet from a Kalachakra taught by the Dalai Lama in India in 2012 were imprisoned and ‘re-educated’ at length.

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Larung demolition

Demolitions begin at Larung Gar, ‘monastery for the world’, as religious teachers urge calm

July 25, 2016

Demolitions of monks’ and nuns’ dwellings began last week at the important Buddhist center of Larung Gar in eastern Tibet, one of the world’s largest monastic institutions with a population of thousands of Chinese and Tibetan practitioners. Larung Gar in Serthar has become increasingly prominent in both Tibet and China in recent years as a vital center for the study, practice, and promotion of Buddhist teachings otherwise difficult to access or non-existent in regular monasteries and nunneries due to restrictions put in place by the Chinese goverment.

Images circulating on social media of bulldozed wooden buildings with monks standing in the rubble are reminiscent of the demolitions of more than a thousand homes and expulsions of hundreds of monks and nuns that took place in 2001 at Larung Gar, located in Serthar, in Kardze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan (the Tibetan area of Kham).

The demolitions, which are expected to continue this week, were outlined in an order issued by the county government – which also gave no indication that Larung Gar’s religious leaders had any involvement in the process of decision-making.

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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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The ‘poisonous fruit’ of Tibet’s religious policy as China publishes ‘Living Buddha’ database

May 2, 2016

As China publishes its online database of Communist Party approved Tibetan Buddhist reincarnations, with more than 400 names added last week, a vibrant online debate among Chinese and Tibetan netizens has followed a scathing critique of policies on religion in Tibet focusing on the Party’s attempts to control reincarnation by a Tibetan scholar in the PRC.

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Panel Discussion on Tibetan Buddhism at the Parliament of the World’s Religions Convention in Salt Lake City

October 13, 2015

On October 18, there will be a panel discussion on “Buddhism, Tibet and China: Past, Present, and Future” at the Parliament of World’s Religion Convention in Salt Lake City.

The Convention, which is “the oldest, the largest, and the most inclusive gathering of people of all faith and traditions,” is being held from October 15 to 19, 2015.

The panelists are Dr. Tenzin Dorjee from California State University, Fullerton, and a Chinese scholar. Dr. Dorjee is a published author and translator of Tibetan Buddhism into English and had also served as translator to His Holiness the Dalai Lama during teachings and talks in India and USA.

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religious freedom

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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Tibetan Buddhists demonized by PRC Government as posing threat to China’s survival: Matteo Mecacci tells UN Human Rights Council

March 11, 2015

Matteo Mecacci, President of the International Campaign for Tibet, delivered a statement on behalf of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights at the interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief at the 28th United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva on March 11. He said “The Chinese government adopted a more pervasive approach to “patriotic education”, including measures to micromanage Tibetan Buddhist monastic affairs; “legal education” programs for monks and nuns; and a ban on images of the Dalai Lama.”

While in Geneva, Matteo Mecacci asked for support among the diplomatic community on Tibet related issues. He was accompanied by the ICT Head for UN Advocacy, Kai Mueller.

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BBC Story on a former Chinese Official and practicing Buddhist meeting the Dalai Lama in exile

BBC has carried a report on a former high Chinese official, Xiao Wunan, who is a practicing Tibetan Buddhist, which includes footage of his prayer room in Beijing and his views about how Tibetan Buddhism has positively impacted his life, and his meeting with the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, India, in 2012. We are providing […]

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United States Commission on International Religious Freedom annual report

April 30, 2014

On April 30, 2014, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom released its annual report for 2014. It found that “[f]or Tibetan Buddhists … conditions are worse now than at any time in the past decade.”

The Commission is an “independent, bipartisan U.S. federal government commission dedicated to defending the universal right to freedom of religion or belief abroad.” It issues reports and makes policy recommendations to the President, the State Department, and Congress.

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China: authorities must end their crackdown on Tibetan Buddhism

September 30, 2013

Paris, Geneva, 30 September 2013. In a joint report published today for the People’s Republic of China’s second Universal Periodic Review, FIDH and ICT urge Chinese authorities to end their on-going crackdown on Tibetan Buddhism. The report highlights numerous violations of principles set in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as a result of increasingly systematic measures set by the government since 2008.

Following the overwhelmingly peaceful protests that swept across Tibet in March and April 2008, the most tragic evidence of the deteriorating environment for Tibetan Buddhism has been a wave of self-immolations, which has caused as of today more than 120 Tibetan deaths, including of students, monks, nuns, young mothers, farmers and nomads. Many of those who self-immolated clearly sought to underline the religious context of their acts: some have died with their hands clasped in prayer, while many self-immolated beside a stupa (reliquary building), a monastery or a nunnery.

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