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Qinghai Tibetans banned from online religious presence

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(TibetanReview.net, Jan25’22) – Implementing a new national law that bans efforts to spread religion or disseminate religious teaching through online channels ahead of this fall’s crucial five-yearly congress of the Communist Party of China, authorities in Qinghai Province have on Jan 20 ordered Tibetan social media groups tied to religion to disband or face punishment.

The new law – “Measures for the Administration of Internet Religious Information Services” – forbids or strictly limits a broad swathe of online activity, and is to come into force from Mar 1.

“All online coordinating of religious activities and related events will be banned,” the Tibetan Service of rfa.org Jan 24 cited a local source as saying of the order, speaking on condition of anonymity for security reasons. Investigation and punishment will follow those who violate the order, which was issued on Jan 20, the report said.

People across Tibet have created many social media groups which coordinate religious activities online and share information about pilgrimages, religious holidays and special religiously charitable observances that include activities to free captive birds, fish etc, earmarked for slaughtering.

Under the new order issued under the new law, “religious events and ceremonies performed or discussed on social media groups will now be banned completely, and online activities by the groups will be constantly monitored,” the source was quoted as saying.

The new law, drafted by five government departments including the State Administration for Religious Affairs, also bans the creation of religious organizations or schools online, as well as efforts to attract new followers.

Any religious content accused of opposing the Communist Party’s leadership or inciting subversion of state power will be banned. 

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