By Tenzin Monlam
Tibet advocacy group sees ‘revised religious regulations’ as threat to Tibetan Buddhism’s survival
DHARAMSHALA, September 20: A US-based advocacy group for Tibet, the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT), has expressed concerns over the Chinese government’s revised regulation on religion saying that it enhances the far-reaching power the communist party and threatens the survival of Tibetan Buddhism.
The advocacy group has also said that it consolidates a ‘legalistic framework’ of ‘compliance and punishment’ with regards to religious faith and that it also represents the ‘staggering reach’ of an atheist government’s intrusion in people’s lives.
“Tibetans face a very real danger in their struggle to protect and practice their religion, which is integral to their identity, and will need the spirit and resilience that they continue to demonstrate in holding fast to their teachings,” said Matteo Mecacci, President of ICT.
The Chinese State Council on September 7 presented the revised rules as means to protect citizens’ freedom of religious belief, maintain religious and social harmony and to regulate the management of religious affairs.
However, numerous NGOs and religious groups see it as China exercising total control over the management of every religion including Buddhism, Christianity and Islam. Since the revised laws see peaceful religious practice as threat, ICT believes that it would create a more dangerous political environment for Buddhist monks, nuns and laymen.
The new rules also include banning of foreign donations. Matteo Mecacci said, “In the focus on the eradication of ‘foreign’ influence, there is no doubt too that the intention is to ensure Tibetans in Tibet are separated from the teachings and presence of their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, isolating them still further.”
The Washington DC-based group retorted China’s attempt to force Buddhist followers to ‘socialist core values’ as absurd and warned that religion cannot become a means for achieving political goals.
ICT’s report highlighted that the revised provisions of the rules originally imposed in 2005 as more ‘restrictive’ than a draft made public last year. According to ICT, the new rules consist of measures to deny freedom of religion by articulating these measures in ‘opaque language’.
The advocacy group laid out few recommendations to the Chinese authorities such as ratifying the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and a concrete timeline for its process; revising the current regulations on religious affairs in accordance with international human rights standards.
It also laid out an appeal urging the international community to urge the Chinese government to act on the recommendations.