New methods of Religious Repression

China continues its religious repression against the Tibetan people. In a fresh move China has started to demolish structures symbolizing Tibetan Buddhism including old statues and monasteries. Since December 2021, three such demolitions have taken place. Radio Free Asia verified through satellite imagery that an old statute of Guru Padmasambhava also known as Guru Rimpoche was demolished in late January 2022.

Chinese Communist Party has been fooling the world for decades regarding human rights and religious freedom in China as well as other areas under their control. While in reality, an atheist country with a leader, not a leader rather a dictator, who has forced and even coerced the Tibetan people to replace his picture into the Tibetan Buddhist altars. Every member of the Communist Party of China knew, when they joined it, that they had to be atheists. In Tibet, this rule has been strictly enforced in recent year’s not just on party members and their relatives but also on government servants as well as school children and their parents. A new code of conduct for members of the Chinese Communist Party in Tibet explicitly forbids party members from all forms of religiosity in both public and private life. The six-point code of conduct is significant for being perhaps the first party regulation that clearly and comprehensively details the specific types of religiosity forbidden for party members in Tibet. Examples of explicitly forbidden conduct include wearing rosary beads or religious imagery, forwarding or liking religious materials online and circumambulating mountains and lakes. Party members are also required to take on an active role to propagate the party’s anti-religion stance by advising relatives to downplay their religious consciousness, not set up altars or hang religious imagery in homes, and seek party approval before inviting religious personnel to conduct rituals for customary occasions such as weddings and funerals.

Recently, Dharamshala-based rights group Tibet Watch revealed that the Chinese government in a fresh move to control religion, has announced a new decree in December, 2021 that warned Tibetans of possible clamp down on the spread of online religious content. The regulation ‘Measures on the Administration of Internet Religious Informative Services’, which has come into effect from March 1, bans all foreign organizations and individuals from spreading religious content online in China and Tibet, except for those who have acquired government licenses.

The Article 17 of the rule stipulates that people without license are “not allowed to organize and carry out religious activities on the internet” and also “not allowed to broadcast or record religious ceremonies such as worshipping Buddha, burning incense, ordaining, chanting, worshipping, mass, and baptism in the form of words, pictures, audio and video.” Anybody found guilty of flouting these rules could face severe punishment.

Even the US President Biden raised (Nov 16, 2021) concerns about the PRC’s practices in Xinjiang, Tibet, and Hong Kong, as well as human rights more broadly, with Xi Jinping during on line discussion. Sikyong Penpa Tsering of the Central Tibetan Administration, Dharamshala accused (Nov.26, 2021) China of implementing a ‘One nation, one party, one language, one culture’ policy in occupied Tibet and said that Tibetans as a people and culture was being subjected to a slow death.

Criticising China for destroying Buddhism in order to destroy the identity of the Tibetans, Ling Rimpoche (reincarnation of the Dalai Lama’s teacher) rebuked (January 26, 2022) China for the destruction of Tibetan Buddhist literature, Buddhist identity including the destruction of the Dalai Lama’s palace, a huge number of monasteries and Buddha statues of historical and religious value as well as systematically reducing the Tibetans to a state of destitution in their own country. Rimpoche also stated that out of five thousand Tibetan monasteries only five are in existence in Tibet now and they are fake and fully under the control of Chinese leadership. Rimpoche emphasized that Chinese are destroying Buddhism in order to destroy the identity of the Tibetans. Additionally, Mahanayake Thero (Sri Lanka) remarked that Chinese Communists deserve unreserved condemnation for destroying Buddhism and the Buddhist community.He also stated that Tibet was an independent country, the only country ruled by a Buddhist monk who was both a national leader and spiritual leader of the people of that contry.

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