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No faith in the state

December 10, 2007


According to Article 18 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”

Although China has signed and ratified the UN UDHR, the day to day experience of Tibetan monks and nuns belies any pretence of religious freedom under Chinese occupation.

The testimonies of monks and nuns who have made the arduous journey from Tibet to Dharamsala have been collected by Tibet Watch  researchers for the past two years. These testimonies are reproduced as the heart of No faith in the state, a report jointly released on Universal  Human Rights Day by Free Tibet and Tibet Watch.

The exiled monks and nuns, whose stories have been independently verified, spoke candidly to researchers, on the understanding that they would be guaranteed anonymity to protect family and friends left behind.

Theirs is the story of a decade of intensified restrictions on and repression of the practice of Tibetan Buddhism in both the Tibetan Autonomous Region and the former provinces of Tibet which have been absorbed officially into China.

In particular they highlight the difficulties of practising their religious beliefs imposed by:

  • The intensification of China’s programme of “patriotic re-education” in Tibet’s monasteries and nunneries. Monks and nuns must pass a political exam before entry to the monastery and, once initiated, are routinely forced to denounce the Dalai Lama.
  • Legislation enacted in September 2007 which gives the atheist state the right to control all aspects of the recognition process of all reincarnated lamas.
  •  The placement of police stations in the proximity of, or inside, monasteries to monitor the activities of monks and to enforceÊ discipline.

Report author and editor Anne Holmes (Director of Free Tibet) said:

“This report gives voice to the heartbreak of monks and nuns forced to choose between being allowed to practise their faith and denouncing His Holiness the Dalai Lama. It also gives voice to the fear and paranoia in which they are forced to live.

“Monks have also told us of returning to monasteries that are more like museums. Monks and nuns talk of having money donated for the upkeep of monasteries and nunneries snatched by the Chinese authorities.

“How can China ever expect to be a respected player on the world stage when it does everything in its power to control and undermine the religious beliefs that are a basic human right of the Tibetan people? When it treats monasteries as tourist attractions and is hell bent on the Disneyfication of Tibetan culture?”

To read the report, click here NoFaithInTheState.

From → Free Tibet

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