The painful struggle for religious freedom in Tibet

  • China has destroyed or damaged up to 99% of Buddhist monasteries in Tibet
  • 80 Tibetan monks were forcibly expelled from their monasteries last October

Tibetans are reclaiming their religious freedom Jakyung Monastery, where 30 monks were expelled in 22 October 2021

On 21/22 October 2021, 30 teenage monks from Jakyung Monastery, and a further 50 from Deetsa Monastery, in Bayan County (Cn: Hualong), Qinghai Province were expelled by state officials. Security officers entered the monasteries and forcibly removed the students, before returning them to their respective homes.

Tibet Watch sources - under the condition of anonymity for their personal safety - reported that, upon return to their family homes, security officers informed students that they could no longer wear monks' robes, nor could they attend school. Such a directive limits young Tibetan Buddhists' access to their cultural heritage, as monasteries serve as an essential resource for Tibetan language and cultural learning.

The Dalai Lama and the Tibetan diaspora are able to share the teachings of Tibetan Buddhism with the whole world. But sadly, in Tibet, Tibetan Buddhism faces threats to its survival as a result of Chinese policies. Tibetans are being persecuted for their beliefs. They can be arrested simply for owning photographs of the Dalai Lama or celebrating his birthday. Inside Chinese prisons, they can be beaten and tortured.

Ongoing reports of arresting Tibetans for simply owning photos of the Dalai Lama, expelling monks and nuns from their religious institutions, and preventing school children from taking part in religious activities make clear that the right to practica their religion is a continuous struggle for Tibetans.

Tibetan school forcibly demolished by Chinese authoritiesThose who seek to study Buddhism endure intrusive security measures in monasteries than operate under heavy-handed Chinese restrictions. Their attempts to practice their faith are interrupted by China's attempts of political brainwashing in the form of "patriotic education".

Last August, Chinese authorities announced the cancellation of the annual Shoton festival, a major religious cultural festival in Lhasa that includes a monastic ceremony with a thangka (Tibetan religious painting) display.

To top it off, China is trying to control the Tibetan reincarnation system. After abducting the reincarnated Panchen Lama and his family when he was just six years old, the Chinese Communist Party now says it plans to select the next Dalai Lama—an absurd claim that the international community needs to respond to decisively.

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