By Tenzin Monlam
Phayul Photo: Kunsang Gashon
DHARAMSHALA/GAYA, JAN 8: The Tibetan Prime Minister (Sikyong) Dr. Lobsang Sangay today in a rebuttal to China’s denial of pressuring Tibetans from Tibet to attend the Kalachakra called Beijing’s claim an ‘exaggeration’.
“It is a fact that those who are here for pilgrimage with legal permits and documents from the Chinese authorities have been directed to return and failure to do so would result in severe consequences,” the PM Sangay said at a press conference in Bodh Gaya.
China on Friday denied reports of pressurizing Tibetans to return to Tibet and disallowing them from attending the Kalachakra puja headed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and organized by the Tibetan government in exile, known officially as the Central Tibetan Administration.
Zhu Weiqun, Chairman of the Ethnic and Religious Committee has claimed that the ‘Kalachakra initiations have tricked Tibetans into going abroad illegally by taking advantage of the presence of the Dalai Lama.
However, the Tibetan PM citing Tibetans from Tibet he had met said that they were all here legally with proper documents, which they managed to get after many years of effort.
“China claims there is religious freedom and freedom of expression and this is their freedom of religion. We are here in India and Nepal for pilgrimage, but now they are going to our homes and pressuring us to return,” the Tibetan PM quoted one of them as telling him.
Sangay said that many of them going back to Tibet is evidence of the growing pressure from China. He stated that Chinese authorities have been doing rounds in the Tibetan houses and compelling every family member to be at their respective homes from Jan 1 to Jan 15.
“Those who are here for pilgrimage are all concern and fearful since they have to return.” Sangay said.
A Tibetan monk whose parents had to return told phayul, "I got call from my village saying that Chinese government officials have been visiting homes of people who are away to India, and threatening them of malignant consequence if they fail to return."
China today admitted that they are discouraging Tibetans in Tibet from attending the 34th Kalachakra initiations in Bodh Gaya. However, despite various reports they still maintain that they have not forced anyone to return.
“The government by no means threatened them to return, although the government does not encourage them to attend the ritual,” Xu Zhitao, Deputy Director of the Bureau of the Tibet.