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US report criticizes China’s widespread religious interferences in Tibet

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry releases the 2014 Annual Report on International Religious Freedom Oct. 14 at the State Department in Washington. (Photo courtesy: (CNS photo/Jim Lo Scalzo, EPA)
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry releases the 2014 Annual Report on International Religious Freedom Oct. 14 at the State Department in Washington. (Photo courtesy: (CNS photo/Jim Lo Scalzo, EPA)

(TibetanReview.net, Oct18, 2015) – The United States has on Oct 14 criticized China’s widespread restrictions on and interferences in Tibetan people’s religious freedom during 2014, including on the issue of succession to Tibetan religious leadership. “The message at the heart of this report is that countries benefit when their citizens fully enjoy the rights to which they are entitled,” said Secretary of State John Kerry while releasing the 2014 Report on International Religious Freedom.

The report’s section on Tibet, including in Qinghai Province and other Tibetan areas in Gansu, Yunnan and Sichuan Provinces, says, “authorities severely restricted religious freedom and engaged in widespread interference in religious practices, especially in Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and nunneries.”

The report criticizes many aspects of China’s religious policy in Tibet, including the imposition of restrictions on the number of people allowed to become monks and nuns and restrictions on the movement of Tibetans seeking to travel to India for religious purposes. It criticizes China’s criminal prosecutions of Tibetans associated with self-immolation protests on grounds of alleged “intentional homicide”.

On the issue of the reincarnation system in Tibetan Buddhism, the report says China had “continued to exercise its authority over the approval of reincarnations of Tibetan Buddhist lamas and the supervision of their education.” This referred to a 2014 China Daily article which reported on the establishment of a Leading Group for Identifying Buddhist Reincarnate Lamas in the TAR and the release of a new implementing regulation for “Tibetan Buddhist Reincarnation Management” to ensure Communist Party control over the reincarnation process.

Responding to a question regarding China’s claim that it had the right to select the next Dalai Lama during the press conference, US Ambassador at Large for Religious Freedom David Saperstein has said: “We think that every community, including the Tibetan Buddhist has the right to choose its own monks, its own lamas and its own leaders, and we have been consistently critical of the Chinese efforts to decide who religious leaders of any faith group should be”.

Matteo Mecacci, President of the International Campaign for Tibet, welcomed the report. He said, “We welcome this report as a reiteration of the United States’ commitment to promote religious freedom worldwide, including in Tibet, where the Tibetan people are still prevented from practicing their faith free from fear and from intimidation.”

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