Top US religious rights official slams Beijing’s Dalai Lama reincarnation moves

His Excellency Ambassador Samuel D Brownback addressing the reception at Kashag, 28 October 2019. (Photo courtesy: Tenzin Jigme/CTA)

(, Oct29’19) – Severely criticizing China for its “persecution of the Tibetan people’s faith”, US Ambassador at large for International Religious Freedom Mr Samuel D Brownback made it clear Oct 28 that his government was fully with the Tibetan people, and opposed to atheist Beijing, on the issue of the recognition of the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader.

Speaking at a conference hosted by the Tibetan Institute for Performing Arts held in Dharamsala, the seat of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), Brownback said the Tibetan people had the right to choose their own religious leaders.

Agreeing with the Dalai Lama and the CTA, Brownback said, “The role of picking a successor to the Dalai Lama belongs to the Tibetan Buddhist system, the Dalai Lama, and other Tibetan leaders. It does not belong to anybody else, not any government or any entity.”

The 84-year-old Dalai Lama has repeatedly expressed confidence that he will live to be at least 113 years old and promised to set out his reincarnation plans after he reaches the age of 90.

Claiming imperial legacy and its own recently enacted legislative measures, Chinese leaders who profess and enforce atheism among the country’s ruling echelon, say they have the right to control the selection of reincarnation of “living Buddhas’, their term for Tibetan Buddhist reincarnations. They insist that the discovery and recognition process must comply with Chinese law, that it all must take place within the territory of the People’s Republic of China.

The Dalai Lama has, on the other hand, made it clear that there would be no basis for him to be reborn in a territory under Chinese control if the issue of Tibet remained unsolved within his current lifetime for it would defeat the very purpose of his reincarnation.

Brownback also spoke up for Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama, Tibet’s second most prominent religious figure. The Chinese government kidnapped him and his family days after the Dalai Lama declared him as the 11th Panchen Lama in April 1995, to be never seen or heard again. China appointed an 11th Panchen Lama of its own, Gyaltsen Norbu, in his place.

“We call on the [People’s Republic of China] government to release immediately the Tibetan-recognized Panchen Lama Gedhun Choekyi Nyima or share the truth about his fate with the world,” Brownback said.

Brownback was the chief guest at the First International Conference on Tibetan Performing Arts and the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts which is run by the CTA.

In Washington a new bill – The Tibetan Policy and Support Act of 2019 – introduced in Congress threatens sanctions against Chinese officials interfering with the selection of a new Dalai Lama, with proposed penalties including the freezing of assets and denial of entry to the United States of responsible officials.


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