Chinese Authorities Slap New Constraints on Tibetan Buddhist Monasteries

Reported by Sonam Wangdu and Dorjee Tso for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin for Radio Free Asia.

Chinese authorities in Tibet have imposed new restrictions on monasteries in a county in northwestern China’s Qinghai province, intensifying an existing ban on displaying photos of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, Tibetan sources in the region and in exile said.

The restrictions pertain to Rongwo and other monasteries in Rebgong (in Chinese, Tongren) county, Malho (Huangnan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, in northwestern China’s Qinghai province, a native of Rebgong who lives in exile in Europe said.

“During the month of March this year, the Chinese authorities imposed unprecedented restrictions on the display of the Dalai Lama’s photo in Rebgong’s Rongwo monastery and in other monasteries,” he told RFA’s Tibetan Service.

Authorities issued four restrictions to be implemented at Rongwo monastery, which was founded in the 14th century and is located 124 kilometers (77 miles) from the provincial capital Xining, and other Tibetan Buddhist institutions in the county, he said.

The first mandate requires monasteries to strictly follow the leadership of local management committees in implementing rules and regulations, he said.

Chinese authorities set up the management committees in early 2012 in most Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, placing them under the direct control of government officials who are permanently installed in the lamaseries.

The policy was enacted to ensure that monks and nuns do not participate in activities calling for an independent Tibet or disturb the social order through protests or self-immolations.

“The permanent posting of government or party officials inside monasteries is unprecedented in Tibet, let alone at such a senior level,” Human Rights Watch said in a March 2012 statement after the policy was established.

Under a previous policy, Tibetan monasteries had been administered by so-called democratic management committees whose members were nominated and selected by government and local Communist Party officials, although the body itself was comprised of monks elected by their own communities.

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