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US annual report highlights China’s forced assimilation, suppression of Tibetan Buddhists

2019 Annual Report of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF)

(TibetanReview.net, May01’19) – In the name of “Sinicizing” Tibetan Buddhism, the Chinese government sought to forcibly bring the Tibetan people’s religious faith under party-based state control in 2018, said the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) in its latest annual report released on Apr 29. The report documents China’s strategy of “forced assimilation and suppression” of Tibetan Buddhism and also calls on Beijing to release Tibetan political prisoners.

The officially atheist communist-party-government of China has been vigorously carrying out a policy of Sinicizing religion with special focus on Buddhists in Tibet, Muslim’s in Xinjiang and Christians in the mainland. The report denounces the persecution and torture of Uyghurs and other Muslims, Tibetans, house church Christians, members of Falun Gong and The Church of Almighty God.

Calling out China as one of the world’s most egregious persecutors of religious faiths, USCIRF Commissioner Gary L Bauer has said, “I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to suggest that the Chinese government has essentially declared war on religious faith.”

In Tibet, a new government policy introduced in Aug 2018 requires monks and nuns to show “political reliability,” “moral integrity” and a willingness to “play an active role at critical moments.” These were meant to compel monks and nuns to oppose protests against the Chinese government.

The report criticizes the Chinese government for confiscating the passports of several hundred Tibetans who attended the Dalai Lama’s teachings in India, leading to a significant decrease in their number attending his teachings in 2018.

The report also notes that Tibetan schoolchildren in the TAR (Tibet Autonomous Region) were banned from taking part in religious festivals during their holidays and in Dec 2018 authorities in Qinghai Province forbade monasteries from teaching Tibetan language classes to children.

The report calls for the release of the 11th Panchen Lama Gedhun Choekyi Nyima held and disappeared by China in May 1995 as a 6-year-old and who would now be 30 years old and the Tibetan language rights activist Mr Tashi Wangchuk.

Tenzin Dorjee, chair of USCIRF, recommends that the US government apply to China the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act of 2018, as well as the earlier Global Magnitsky Act, both of which allows the President to freeze the assets and restrict the travel of human rights abusers in any country. He supplemented the report with “individual views” that implied that the situation in Tibet may be, in fact, even worse.

While the report highlighted a total of 16 countries as severe violators of religious freedom, Bauer has said China stood in a category on its own, in light of the sheer pervasiveness and scope of the regime’s persecution of believers.

The report recommends that the US government issue targeted sanctions against individuals in China responsible for persecution campaigns against religious groups and raise the issue of religious liberty and human rights across all bilateral engagements with China, including in the ongoing trade negotiations.

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