News and Views on Tibet

China issues manual banning activities related to Independence of Tibet

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An image of the manual banning 20 activities that are deemed as advocating for independence of Tibet by China (Photo/Tibet Times)

DHARAMSHALA, May 28: The Chinese government has released a manual detailing 20 activities deemed illegal in connection with advocating for independence of Tibet. This directive marks a yet another incident of clampdown on expressions of Tibetan identity, cultural and religious practices inside Tibet.

According to a report by Tibet Times, the manual issued by the information department of Thinren County, is titled “A Picture Book of Information on 20 Illegal Actions Related to Tibet Independence.” It outlines various activities considered illegal under Chinese law, including displaying the Dalai Lama’s image and the act of self-immolation, a form of protest linked to Tibetan activism resorted by over 159 known cases of Tibetans who have self-immolated to protest against the Chinese illegal occupation of Tibet.  

The manual also outlaws activities promoting the Tibetan language and environmental or protection of animals if it is perceived as an effort towards promoting separatism. It also prohibits entering other countries illegally and participating in religious activities in other countries.

The regulations extend to controlling information dissemination where Tibetans are prohibited from spreading, selling, or possessing books, images, videos, and soundtracks discussing Tibetan independence. The use of foreign media outlets, such as Voice of America, considered to encourage separatist sentiments by the Chinese government is also banned. Any online communication about Tibetan independence risks facing severe penalties, the new directives warned.

The manual targets religious practices and social gatherings, prohibiting Tibetans from participating in foreign religious activities or raising images of the Dalai Lama and Tibetan independence fighters. Traditional practices like incense offerings, setting animals free, and lighting butter lamps for self-immolators or their families are banned. Even gathering to recite prayers during Tibetan auspicious events is forbidden if deemed supportive of independence.

The manual also includes prohibitions on believing Tibet is an independent country, and spreading or selling materials about Tibetan thoughts. It also bans collecting donations for what China deems separatist forces, discussing Tibet independence in schools, working with external so-called separatist forces, organising prayers for the Dalai Lama during Tibetan events, and inciting others under the guise of religious and traditional activities.

Observers and right groups have maintained that China’s heavy-handedness is apparent through these vague and blanket laws that snubs any and all voices of dissent. Any activity that expresses the unique identity and voice are deemed as separatist activities and severely persecuted.

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