Tibetan Serfs Emancipation Day, 28th March, Part 6 - Religious Freedom

This is Part 6 of a series of 8 Articles best read in conjunction.

Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4 / Part 5 / Part 7 / Part 8

A closer examination of the impact Tibetans experienced due to their encounter with the Han Chinese.

[6] Religious Freedom

The Han CCP is proclaiming that Tibetans enjoy full Freedom of Religion and that they support and assist monasteries financially and otherwise.

Recently the Han Chinese have installed CCTV cameras in most monasteries to control the monks’ every activity, they maintain a tight security presence around the clock, and even opened Police stations inside, or right next to many monasteries.

Not only are the number of monks and nuns strictly controlled and limited, the curriculum and extent of the teachings is also controlled and prescribed by the Han Chinese with many aspects of traditional teachings banned for being deemed to be “too politically sensitive”.
These restrictions and transformations render the Buddhist teachings almost meaningless, to the point of having become an instrument of Han CCP indoctrination and brainwashing.
Monks must pass exams in political ideology, denounce the Dalai Lama and are required to swear allegiance to local communist party authorities, or be expelled from monastic life.

Politics is one such subject prescribed, and monks must undergo such political indoctrination, pass exams in patriotism, prove their ‘love for the motherland’ and denounce the Dalai lama, or they forfeit the right to be a monk.
As an example, the correct answer to one of the political questions is:
"The Dalai is the head of the Serpent and the Chieftain of the separatist organization conspiring for independence in Tibet and he is the root-cause of all social instability in Tibet."

This psychological terror strikes at the very heart of Tibetan identity and their most treasured principles.
Such willful humiliation is what compels many monks into committing suicide rather than having to renounce and pervert their deepest and most sacred convictions.
Reports list literally dozens of monks who commit suicide annually rather than become a lackey to the Han Chinese and betray their very own Tibetanness and convictions.

If a monk is expelled he will almost certainly be unable to find work, and will thereafter be treated as a criminal by the Han authorities.

Hand picked Lamas receiving their Geshe Degree after passing their political examsHand picked Lamas receiving their Geshe Degree after passing their political exams

The teaching of Buddhism is also an ongoing process of learning and investigation.
However, the Han Chinese have prohibited the studies towards, and examinations for a Geshe Lharampa Degree for 15 years, which is equivalent to a PhD in Tibetan Buddhism.
It has now been ‘reinstated’, not out of any concern for religious freedom or human rights, but as a tool to further humiliate and indoctrinate Tibetans, pervert their religion, and in the process prevent the true spirit of Buddhism from re-emerging.
Now candidates are required to study, and pass exams on six political ideology books written by the CCP.

All this clearly is designed to render the teachings of Buddhism unattractive and meaningless, and in doing so the Han perverted it into a tool for the indoctrination, humiliation and oppression of Tibetans.

In a clear exploit of scheming and fomenting the chasm which has plagued the exiled Tibetan community over the propitiation of Dorje Shugden, the Han Chinese are favouring and rewarding monasteries, which follow this practice, with money taken form other monasteries.

Monks report that often donations of money they received for the monastery had been confiscated by the Han Chinese.

They also report a climate of fear and mistrust, as probably every monastery has been infiltrated by paid undercover moles posing as monks, to the point of monks even mistrusting their own superiors, as they all have all been selected by the Han authorities on grounds of their ‘trustworthiness’ and ‘loyalty’ to the Han nation.

Tourists report that they were arrested for relics they had taken into Tibet and given to some monk in a monastery, such as photos of the Dalai Lama and tapes of his teachings. Later, that same monk was present at the police station to identify them.
Monks also report that prostitutes regularly appear in monasteries sent by the Han authorities to tempt them into breaking their vows of celibacy.

Further restrictions monks face are bans on the use of the internet, mobile phones, DVD’s and Videos.

The following is but a very small sample of recent cases, providing a glimpse of what monks, and Tibetans in general, have to endure in arbitrary arrests on trumped up charges, and the repression of their basic rights and freedoms of expression:

• Abbot Khenpo Jinpa was arrested and subsequently imprisoned for three years for the alleged distribution of leaflets in support of independence and the Dalai Lama.

• Rongye Adrak was sentenced to eight years in prison for inciting “separatism” by calling for the return of the Dalai Lama.
Three Tibetans who witnessed his arrest and had concerns over his fraudulent trial were themselves arrested for allegedly attempting to provide information to foreign organizations.
They were subsequently sentenced to ten, nine and three years in jail for the “crime” of “leaking intelligence” and “endangering national security”.

• A village leader, Penpa, was arrested and imprisoned for three years for allegedly being in possession of material relating to the Dalai Lama’s Kalachakara teachings.

• Choeying Khedrub was jailed for life for allegedly “endangering state security” and “supporting splittist activities”.
Many other monks were sentenced to life for the same alleged “crimes”.

• Tenzin Delek Rinpoche was framed and sentenced to death on trumped up charges, his supposed co-conspirator was executed immediately. Rinpoche was a very popular Lama and was a thorn in the side for the Han authorities for his independent mindedness, conservationist stance, assistance to nomads and support for Tibetan identity.

Anyone who is familiar with the conditions of prisons in Tibet and the treatment Tibetans are subjected to once incarcerated by the Han Chinese, for whatever trumped up charges, will be aware of the abject horror that awaits these hapless victims of Han racism.

The 11th Panchen Lama, Gedun Choekyi Nyima, abducted by the Han Chinese and never seen againThe 11th Panchen Lama, Gedun Choekyi Nyima, abducted by the Han Chinese in 1995 at the age of six and has never been seen again!

The 11th Panchen Lama, Gedun Choekyi Nyima, identified by the Tibetans as the reincarnation of the previous Panchen, was abducted by the Chinese in 1995 at age 6, along with his family and teachers, and none of whom has ever been seen since.

The Han Chinese have installed their own puppet Panchen Lama, and use him for their propaganda purposes.
On his rare ventures out of Beijing to Tibet, monks in monasteries he visits must attend his audience, and they are sometimes bribed with 100 yuan, in propaganda stunts for footage of smiling monks ‘adoring their Panchen Lama’, to show how much he is ‘revered and respected’ by the Tibetan monks.
However he is simply referred to as the ‘Han Panchen’, and Tibetans wish nothing more than the return of their real Panchen Lama, if he is still alive, and of course the return of the Dalai Lama.

See Footnotes: i

In monasteries where tourists are likely to appear, there are plainclothes PAP in constant attendance. In remoter areas armed PAP is there in full regalia, ever present and controlling every activity day and night.

Monasteries are completely under the control of the Han CCP through their Democratic Management Committees, and their every activity and finance is regulated, controlled, and permissions have to be sought for any activity monks might want to undertake.

As part of true Buddhist teachings, monks will cultivate the Four Immeasurables, and thus after long and arduous training will transcend the mundane mindset of referential thinking and be detached from such follies of likes, dislikes, hate, anger, sorrow and attachment.
This is one aspect which can not be regulated, as it is part of meditation practices, and just requires the utmost undivided focus and attention.
Thus, a monk will be able to forgive and see their tormentors as ‘teachers’ who provide the ultimate ‘test’ for the application and realization of the Four Immeasurables.

This explains how monks, even after thirty years of constant torture and torment at the hands of their oppressors, bear no grudge or animosity towards their tyrannizing captors, and keep their smiles, as though their lives were one of constant bliss under Han occupation.
See Footnotes: ii

Some other measures to oppress Tibetans and their religious freedom include:

• Indoctrination sessions, which monks have to endure on a mostly daily basis, and these have now also been extended to business and government employees.

• A strict prohibition on pictures of the kidnapped 11th Panchen Lama and the much vilified 14th Dalai Lama, at the threat of very lengthy prison sentences.

• Permissions have to be sought from the Religious Affairs Bureau, RAB, for any activity a monastery wishes to undertake, or for a monk to travel outside his district and give teachings.

• A recent refusal by the RAB to grant permission for an annual religious event at the Tsodham Monastery in early 2010 is but one example of the RAB’s rigorous control and flagrant denial of religious freedom for Tibetans.

• Some 500 monks who originated from outside the TAR were expelled from monasteries in Lhasa and have never been allowed back since 2008.

Tibetan Monks and lay people, in an attempt to avoid the repressive controls and interference by the Han authorities have built new quarters known as Gars for the purpose of teaching and practising their religion. However they have drawn the same unwelcome attention as the traditional monasteries and have been closed down and demolished.
One of these, Larung Gar Religious Institute, which was situated in the Sichuan province was destroyed by the Han authorities. It had some 1,000 quarters for students of Buddhism, and at its peak had over 10.000 practitioners from Tibet, including a thousand from China, plus many from all parts of the world.


Footnote: i

■ Gyaltsen Norbu, an exiled Tibetan monk now living in India provides the following testimony:
"In 2003, the Panchen Zuma visited our monastery. Everyone who came to visit him was given 100 Yuan and a Khata [offering scarf]. Pictures were taken of him giving head-touching blessings to the local people. It was like a show. Honestly speaking, no one was happy with that, because we have no faith in him. But it was ordered by the Government and we had to do what we were told."

Footnote: ii

■ Here is an account of one monk released after 33 years of continuous Han Chinese abuse:
“I became a Buddhist monk when I was ten. When the Chinese invaded Tibet in 1959 I was twenty-nine years old. The Chinese arrested me for putting up posters that Tibet is an independent country. Because of this “crime”, I spent thirty-three years in Chinese prisons and labour camps."
The monk shared some of the details of his life in prison. He said that the Chinese guards wanted to see who would survive their torture and who would die.
"In the name of this “curiosity” they repeatedly tortured and humiliated prisoners. They would tie rope around the prisoners’ necks and pull back their arms, dislocating shoulders and elbows. The guards would lash the prisoners to beams and beat them with metal pipes and wooden boards studded with nails, until the prisoners could no longer control their bodily functions.
In the summer’s heat, the guards dangled their prisoners above a fire, or they dripped boiling water onto the prisoners’ naked bodies in the cold of winter. The prisoners were yoked to ploughs and forced to till the prison lands.
Because they were given only a cup of soup a day, they stayed alive by eating leather, grass, bones, mice, worms, insects, and, on rare and fortunate occasions, food that was meant for the pigs."
The monk told how the guards knocked out all his teeth and beat his head so he became deaf in one ear.
They split his tongue with a cattle prod, broke his nose with metal pipes, and tried to rip out his eyes. He showed us scars on his wrists from self-tightening handcuffs and rope burns on his neck and arms.
His arms could no longer extend.

This is Part 6 of a series of 8 Articles best read in conjunction.

Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4 / Part 5 / Part 7 / Part 8

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