By Tenzin Tsering
Dharamsala, August 18 - Chinese authorities in Tibet’s Chamdo region are warning Tibetans against displaying or keeping in possession pictures of the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, head of the Kagyu sect of Tibetan Buddhism who fled his monastery in Tibet in 2000. Radio Free Asia
reported that Tibetans are not permitted to keep his photographs either as amulets or display them in motor vehicles, a traditional Tibetan practice to protect against misfortune.
The young head of Kagyu sect of Tibetan Buddhism made headlines when he arrived in Dharamsala on January 5, 2000. Ogyen Trinley Dorjee is now 25 and lives near Dharamsala, the seat of Tibetan exile in government. He is considered close to the Tibetan leader, the Dalai Lama whom China accuses of engaging in “splittist” activities and calls “wolf in monk’s robe.”
A Tibetan man who recently arrived in Nepal from Tibet was quoted as saying, “Last year, in Chamdo’s Shankou, Karmapa’s photos were outlawed in an announcement made by the Chinese authorities.” The man also said Chinese police confiscated lockets containing photos of Karmapa from monks in the Tibetan capital Lhasa’s Lugug neighbourhood.
Robbie Barnett, a Tibet scholar at Columbia University called the Chinese move as “surprising” and of significant concern because China’s official policy on Karmapa is he can return to Tibet anytime.
“It’s not totally inconceivable that there may be two policies: ‘He can come back, we are not condemning him publicly. But you are no longer allowed to have pictures,’” Barnett told RFA