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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Chinese Communist Party seeks to intensify reforms in Tibetans monasteries

August 20, 2010

Phurbu Thinley
August 17, 2010

Dharamsala, Aug. 17 -- In what appeared to be a
fresh effort to further tighten government’s
control on Tibet's influential religious
institutions, a top leader of the Communist Party
of China has called for reforms in Buddhist
monasteries by appointing monks and nuns who are "politically reliable".

In a move that could be seen as part of Chinese
Communist regime’s larger campaign to weed out
pro-Dalai Lama elements in the Buddhist clergy,
Du Qinglin, head of the United Front Work
Department of the Party's Central Committee - the
body tasked specifically to handle the Tibet
talks - said greater efforts must be made to
implement "democratic management in Tibetan Buddhist monasteries."

Du also called for "thorough" consultation in
selecting "politically reliable" monks and nuns
to monastery management committees.

"Concerted and solid efforts must be made to
implement democratic management in Tibetan
Buddhist monasteries," Du was quoted as saying by
the state-run Xinhua news agency.

"Competent Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns who
are politically reliable, extraordinarily learned
and widely respected should be selected to
monastery management committees through thorough
democratic consultation," he added.

Du, also vice-chairman of the National Committee
of the Chinese People's Political Consultative
Conference, made the remarks during a two-day
conference on “democratic management of Tibetan
Buddhist monasteries" held in Shigatse, in the
so-called "Tibet Autonomous Region," from Aug. 14 to 15.

His sweeping remarks were timed even as another
powerful Communist Party leader He Guoqiang, a
member of the Standing Committee of the Politburo
undertook a tour of Tibet and visited the Potala
Palace, which was the seat of the Dalai Lamas.

The so-called "Democratic Management Committees"
(DMCs) were established by the Chinese Communist
party since 1950s in every big and small
monastery and temple to oversee the daily
operations of major monasteries. Regulations
restricted leadership of DMCs to ‘patriotic and
devoted’ monks and nuns, and specified that
Government must approve all members of the
committees. At some monasteries, government
officials also sat on the committees.

Through DMCs and relevant local departments in
charge of religious affairs, the government
retained the management control of monasteries,
though not required to contribute to the monasteries’ operating funds.

As per the prevailing rules, the posts of all the
top monks known as Lamas have to be made with the
approval of the Chinese government. In 2007,
Chinese Communist government passed "Measures for
the Reincarnation of Living Buddhas in Tibetan
Buddhism," a controversial law that armed the
Communist Party of China with sole authority to
approve selection of Tibetan reincarnations.

China has long-considered religion as a key
element of Tibetan identity and monastic
institutions as hotbed of political dissidence.

Following widespread unrest against Chinese rule,
largely led by monks and nuns, in 2008, Chinese
Communist government launched renewed and
intensified "Patriotic Education" campaign
covering almost every sections of society and
mainly targeting the monastic institutions.

Under the campaign, Chinese "work team" officials
are sent to especially monastic institutes on a
regular basis to "educate” monks and nuns to be
patriotic towards nation and one's religion, and
to oppose ‘splittist’ forces, which include
denouncing the revered Tibetan spiritual leader
the Dalai Lama, whom China reviles as a "splittist."

Meted out with serious threats involving
imprisonment and expulsion from monasteries,
monks are compulsorily forced to give their
signatures or finger prints to express their non-allegiance to the Dalai Lama.

Reports have surfaced in recent years of monks
succumbing to suicides in the aftermath of
political indoctrination classes and in the face
of growing religious oppression in the monastery.

Since March 2008, more than 17 known cases of
suicides and attempted suicide among monks and nuns have surfaced.
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