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Thursday, January 21, 2021

China warns Tibetan employees, students, others in Lhasa to stay away from religion during Buddhist holy month

Tibetans pray outside Jokhang Monastery ahead of Tibetan New Year’s Day in Lhasa on Feb. 28, 2014. (Photo courtesy: REUTERS)

(TibetanReview.net, May27’20) – The rule has been in force for many years, applies even in normal times, and is highly draconian. However, each year, ahead of the most important Tibetan Buddhist religious festival marking the birth, enlightenment and passing away of the Buddha Shakyamuni, China makes it a point to reiterate the rule with menacing warnings of dire consequences for anyone failing to follow it. And so it has been this time too.

Chinese authorities have made it clear that they will be closely watching government employees, pensioners, and students in Tibet’s capital Lhasa during the Saga Dawa month, but especially on the most important day falling this time on Jun 5, forbidding them from participating in traditional religious gatherings and visiting temples, reported the Tibetan Service of rfa.org May 26.

Though Lhasa’s famous Jokhang Temple and other religious sites are now open to the public, “students, government workers, and persons drawing a state pension are not allowed to take part in religious events,” the report quoted a city resident as saying.

Chinese officials were reported to have called parents of Tibetan schoolchildren to meetings and warned them to prevent their children from attending religious ceremonies and visiting temples.

Noting increased police activity during the holy month and day, the source was quoted as saying, “Authorities have warned that Communist Party members, government workers, and students who are found to have attended religious ceremonies will face severe consequences.”

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