(TibetanReview.net, May16’23) – Documenting a significant increase in religious oppression in the People’s Republic of China over the past one year, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) 2023 Annual Report said May 15 that the situation had progressively worsened under Xi Jinping who promotes a state-ideology of Marxist atheism.
The annual report noted that reports by government and non-governmental organizations had documented nearly one million Muslims in detention centres, organ harvesting from Falun Gong religious adherents, the jailing and torture of Tibetans, Catholics, Protestants, and Buddhists. It further noted that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) had assumed complete control over worship services and liturgy, as well as the appointment of clergy.
On the situation in Tibet, the report documents allegations of “forced disappearances, arrests, physical abuse, and prolonged detentions without trial of monks, nuns, and other persons due to their religious practices”.
The report referred to China’s continued refusal to negotiate with the envoys of the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, for the purpose of addressing and resolving the situation in Tibet.
It referred to the fact that China required the clergy and Tibetan government employees to denounce the Dalai Lama.
The report noted that China “continued to place restrictions on the size of Buddhist monasteries and other institutions and to implement a campaign begun in 2016 to evict monks and nuns from monasteries” in thousands to tens of thousands.
The report said “authorities restricted children from attending traditional religious festivals or from going on pilgrimages during school holidays,” while “warning that monks and parents could have their social security benefits restricted or be detained if classes taught by monks continued.”
In particular, the report noted: “Authorities also continued to force monasteries to display portraits of [CCP] leaders and required Tibetans to replace images of the Dalai Lama and other lamas in their homes with portraits of CCP leaders, including former chairman Mao Zedong and General Secretary and President Xi Jinping.”
“Images of the Dalai Lama were banned, with harsh repercussions for owning or displaying his image.”
On one of the most pressing issues to Tibetan Buddhists, the report said authorities also required clergy and government employees to pledge allegiance to Gyaltsen Norbu, whom Chinese leaders appointed as their own Panchen Lama after kidnapping Gedhun Choekyi Nyima—the 6-year-old recognized as Panchen Lama by the Dalai Lama—on May 17, 1995.
In the same vein, rejecting China’s plan to appoint its own reincarnate-successor to the current Dalai Lama, the report reiterated the US position, saying, “Decisions on the succession of the Dalai Lama should be made solely by the Tibetan people, free from interference.”
The report called China’s forced separation of nearly one million Tibetan children from their families in separate boarding schools to teach them Mandarin Chinese in a curriculum built around Chinese culture a threat to the very survival of Tibetan language and culture.
The report also referred to the fact that several Tibetans had self-immolated last year and cited the International Tibet Network’s figure of more than 700 political prisoners in Tibet as of Nov 2022.
The report was released by Secretary of State Antony J Blinken and Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Rashad Hussain during an event at the State Department.