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China plans sweeping purge of Tibetan monasteries
telegraph.co.uk[Sunday, July 27, 2008 23:21]
China is planning a sweeping purge of Tibetan monasteries, including banning all worship at those deemed to be major centres of subversion.

By Richard Spencer in Beijing

Monks with "attitude problems", or who refuse to change their thinking in line with official demands, will be dismissed or jailed.

Abbots and other leaders who fail to carry out government orders to "re-educate" their charges will be replaced by the regime's appointees.

The orders are contained in an official document posted only in Tibetan on the government's Tibet information website. This refers to Kandze, a prefecture of Sichuan Province populated largely by Tibetans, where some of the most violent clashes between monks and security forces took place earlier this year.

It provides the most detailed picture yet of an official crackdown against monks involved in the protests that broke out in March.

The document, signed by Li Changping, the prefecture head, records decisions made by the local Communist Party cadres' executive committee.

The targets are "monasteries, monks and nuns who voice or distribute splittist slogans and fliers, fly snow lion flags [Tibetan national flags], and who take part in illegal demonstration to incite splittism".

Even monks who committed "minor crimes" will be sent home for "re-education", reads the document. More serious offenders will be jailed until they recant, while those with "serious crime and attitude problem" will be dismissed from their monasteries.

"Masterminds" of "splittist" activity will be subjected to the full force of the law. If they find shelter at another monastery, its management committee, even if appointed by the Party, "will be considered a supporter and protector of splittists and disruptive elements". The inclusion of this threat suggests the government may be having difficulty controlling its own appointees in monasteries.

The most drastic action is promised against monasteries where a substantial percentage of monks were involved in protests - a figure ranging from ten to 30 per cent. "All religious activities at the monastery will be halted," it says. "Movements of monks will be closely monitored."

All monks or nuns at these monasteries will be required to "re-register". Those who fail loyalty tests will be dismissed and their accommodation demolished, the document warns.

Areas of Sichuan inhabited by Tibetans saw some of the biggest protests against Chinese rule this year.

A number of shootings of protesters and monks were confirmed, though the two sides vary widely in their estimates of how many died.

The translation was verified to The Daily Telegraph by Tsering Topgyal, a Tibetan academic at the London School of Economics.

"Other areas seem to have calmed down as a result of the restrictions in place," he said. "This part has been very active. It seems to indicate - as is quite obvious from other reports - that there is a very heavy clampdown."

Zhang Qingli, the hardline official in charge of Tibet policy, has made repeated speeches attacking the Dalai Lama and saying that "patriotic education campaigns" will be imposed ever more strictly in the wake of the protests.

The head of the Tibet provincial propaganda campaign has already said it was necessary to “clear out the monasteries”.

Stephanie Brigden, director of the Free Tibet Campaign, said she was writing to Prime Minister Gordon Brown, demanding he condemn the new measures.

"These measures represent a charter for further repression. They also provide the most damning proof yet that China has launched its harshest crackdown on religion in Tibet in decades,” she said.

”We are now faced with the ghastly prospect of China's leaders draping themselves in the lofty Olympic ideals of fair play at the Games whilst their security forces conduct a brutal purge of Tibet's monasteries.”
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