police officers affixing an official Public Security Bureau nameplate to their new office in a Tibetan monastery in Kanlho Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture
DHARAMSHALA, JUNE 21: In a move to further step up surveillance and control of Tibetan monasteries, China has established more than twenty police stations in monasteries in Labrang in Gansu province this week. An official report called it a part of “recent focus on policing monasteries” in the region that has seen several self immolation protests by Tibetans since 2009.
The International Campaign for Tibet said the move is a part of Chinese government “policies of placing almost every monastery in Tibet under direct government rule and intensifying Party presence in both rural and urban Tibetan areas.”
“Following the protests that swept across Tibet in 2008, the Chinese government has adopted a strategy of actively stepping up Party presence as the answer to 'instability.’ This has led to a more pervasive and systematic approach to 'patriotic education', the ‘management’ and securitization of monasteries and a dramatic increase in work teams and Party cadres in rural as well as urban areas of Tibet,” the Washington DC based NGO said in a report on its website.
The ICT said the Chinese government seeks to replace loyalty to the Dalai Lama among Tibetans with allegiance to the Chinese Party-state, and in doing so, to undermine Tibetan national identity at its roots.
Speaking about the policy in February, 2012, Communist Party Secretary of the Tibet Autonomous Region Chen Quanguo said that ranks of cadres stationed in monasteries should ensure that monks and nuns “become an important force in loving their country, loving their religion, observing regulations, abiding by laws, safeguarding stability, and building harmony.”
Chinese Communist Party cadres, the ICT said, are being encouraged to befriend monks and nuns and gather information about them and their family members, while guiding them to be "patriotic and progressive".
Meanwhile, the Tibetans have submitted petitions at the regional Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference held in Xining, Qinghai province, in January this year, appealing the government to stop deployment of troops in monasteries.
China has long considered Buddhism as a key element of Tibetan identity and monastic institutions as the hotbed of political dissidence.
Following widespread unrest against Chinese rule, largely led by monks and nuns, in 2008, Chinese government launched renewed and intensified "Patriotic Education" campaign covering almost every sections of society and mainly targeting the monastic institutions.
Under the campaign, Chinese “work team” officials are sent especially to monastic institutes on a regular basis to “educate” monks and nuns to be patriotic towards nation and one's religion, and to oppose ‘splittist’ forces, which include denouncing the revered Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, whom China reviles as a “splittist”.
Meted out with serious threats involving imprisonment and expulsion from monasteries, monks are compulsorily forced to give their signatures or finger prints to express their non-allegiance to the Dalai Lama.
Reports have surfaced in recent years of monks committing suicides in the aftermath of political indoctrination classes and in the face of growing religious oppression in the monastery.