By Tenzin Dharpo
DHARAMSHALA, Jan. 21: Chinese government in occupied Tibet has reportedly threatened Tibetans Buddhists availing government subsidies and subsistence allowance to stop worshipping Buddha or lose government aid.
In May of 2018, authorities ordered impoverished Tibetans who live on minimum subsistence allowances from the state to stop worshiping Buddha or face the prospect of their subsistence allowances being cancelled, reported an online magazine on religious liberty and human rights in China, Bitter Winter
, last week.
The draconian policy affects poor Tibetans as well as those whose lands had been been appropriated and confiscated by the government and rely solely on Chinese government subsidies and allowance for their livelihood.
The Chinese government’s usage of state subsidies and allowances as a leverage to curb religious freedom for the devout and Buddhist majority Tibetan population in occupied Tibet is not new. During the January 2017 Kalachakra teachings in Bodhgaya, India, the Chinese government announced that Tibetan pilgrims from Tibet must return before the beginning of teachings or lose government subsidies and benefits or even face persecution.
Similar dictums also resulted in less than 100 Tibetan pilgrims last month at Bodhgaya during the teaching given by the Tibetan Buddhist leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the lowest turnout in years, analysts say. The numbers pale significantly to last year when over 2000 pilgrims flocked to receive teachings or visit the Bodhgaya temple, considered the most sacred place for Buddhists. The numbers of pilgrims to India at one time used to be as high as 4000 at a single time.
The United States Department of State held a ‘Ministerial to advance religious freedom’ in Washington DC back in July 2018. The maiden convention of its nature, many say, is the Trump administration’s intent to put the religious freedom as a key talking point in its foreign policy discourse moving forward, particularly with China which has a bad record when it comes to religious persecution of Buddhist Tibetans and Muslim Uygurs.