Lhasa Tibetan children ordered to keep away from religion during winter break

Jokhang Temple

(TibetanReview.net, Jan06’20) – Schools in Tibet’s capital Lhasa have reminded their pupils to stay away from religious activities as they broke up for winter vacation this week, said Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) Jan 5, citing, in particular, an order issued by an elementary school.

It said an order sent out by Lhasa Chengguan Haicheng Elementary School told parents, citing an order from the Education Department, that during the winter vacation, which began on Dec 31, students should not participate in any religious activities. Parents are also banned from taking their children to faraway places. The order is said to make parents responsible for all adverse consequences.

The announcement is said to list a seven-point guideline for parents to comply with during their children’s vacation, most of them related to fulfilling academic requirements and keeping away from perceived deviant behaviours. However, point seven is stated to read: “Students are not allowed to participate in any form of religious activity during the break, and in principle long-distance travel with students is not allowed.”

ICT noted that the prohibitions on children from participating in religious activities in Tibet were also announced during the previous summer and winter vacations in 2018 and 2019.

Besides, the Tibetan Service of Radio Free Asia (Washington, DC) reported May 16, 2018 that authorities in Tibet’s Chamdo (Chinese: Changdu) City had ordered Tibetan students and their parents to avoid religious gatherings and festivals during the Buddhist holy month of Saga Dawa (the fourth month that marks the anniversary of the Buddha’s conception, enlightenment and death), threatening them with unspecified punishment if they were caught ignoring the ban.

It also reported Jun 1, 2018 that authorities in Lhasa had ordered Tibetan government employees, schoolchildren, and their parents to avoid group religious activities during Saga Dawa. It added that even government retirees had been targeted by the ban order.


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