(TibetanReview.net, Apr23’21) – Releasing its 2021 annual report, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom has said Apr 21 that the “Chinese government continued its pervasive control and suppression of Tibetan Buddhism”. The Chinese government enforces severe restrictions on Tibetan Buddhists’ right to practice their beliefs and follow the teachings of their religious leaders, the report said.
The report said the Chinese authorities organized seminars at Tibetan Buddhist monasteries to indoctrinate monks and nuns. This, it said, was after “Chinese Communist Party (CCP) General Secretary Xi Jinping emphasized the importance of Sinicizing Tibetan Buddhism to make it compatible with Chinese socialism” at the Seventh Tibet Work Forum held in Beijing in Aug 2020.
In other findings, the report said Chinese authorities generally banned Tibetans, including students and government workers, from participating in traditional religious gatherings. Tibetans were detained and punished for listening to the Dalai Lama’s teachings or having his photo.
It said China’s repression of Tibetan Buddhists didn’t stop in Tibet. It pointed out that in Sep 2020, US authorities arrested an NYPD officer for spying on local Tibetans for China. Similar spying and harassment had taken place in Canada, Sweden and Switzerland.
The report said China’s digital authoritarianism—honed and refined on Uyghurs and Tibetans—had become attractive to repressive regimes around the world that might seek to replicate the “China model,” resulting in religious freedom violations.
As a way to address the situation in Tibet, the commission has called on the Joe Biden administration to enforce the Tibetan Policy and Support Act “to the fullest extent.”
It also urged the State Department promptly appoint a highly qualified special coordinator for Tibetan issues, as mandated under the Act’s predecessor, the Tibetan Policy Act of 2002. The special coordinator’s mandate is to promote substantive dialogue between the Chinese government and representatives of the Dalai Lama.
And the commission recommended that the State Department continue to designate China as a “country of particular concern,” or CPC, under the International Religious Freedom Act.
Two glaring omissions in the report included those on China’s interference in the Dalai Lama reincarnation recognition process and on the whereabouts of Tibet’s second most prominent religious figure, the Panchen Lama Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, who has remained disappeared ever since he was kidnapped by China in 1995 as a six-year-old boy.