By Choekyi Lhamo
DHARAMSHALA, Oct. 6: A panel of so-called Chinese experts have claimed absolute authority over the reincarnation of the spiritual head of Tibet, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, at an International Webinar on the ‘Religious Rituals and Historical Customs of the Reincarnation of Living Buddhas’ on Monday. The event that took place on the side lines of the 51st United Nations Human Rights Council was sponsored by three Chinese institutions, including the China Society for Human Rights Studies.
Panellist Fang Sanping, an associate fellow from Sichun Tibetology Institute, claimed that the “issue of the Dalai Lama’s reincarnation has never been a purely religious issue, nor the personal power of the Dalai Lamas in the past, but a major political issue involving the ownership of sovereignty.” Fang also said that the “Dalai group” has continuously tried to negate the authority of the Chinese central government to “interfere” in the future proceedings.
The messaging from the Chinese government on the international platform comes days after the cabinet of the Tibetan government-in-exile last Thursday in a statement said that the “religious activity has to be conducted as per the responsibilities that His Holiness the Dalai Lama enshrines and entrusts,” and that CTA will take full responsibility as and when the time arrives.
On October 4, a day after the event by the Chinese panel, the US Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Human Rights Uzra Zeya expressed US support for the Tibetan community’s religious freedom, especially their authority to choose their own religious leaders during an event hosted on the sidelines of the 51st session of the Human Rights Council. She tweeted, “Honored to host #HRC51 side event on DalaiLama’s succession alongside co-sponsors 🇨🇦 🇬🇧 🇱🇹 🇨🇿. We will continue to support members of the Tibetan community’s religious freedom, including the ability to choose their own religious leaders.”
The issue of reincarnation of the octogenarian Tibetan leader has been central to Chinese government rhetoric in their claim over the matter and in the larger context, Tibet as part of their territory. The CTA President Penpa Tsering in an interview to ABC News earlier said that the Dalai Lama is the sole authority when it comes to the matter of his reincarnation along with the will of the Tibetans both inside and outside Tibet.
“[Dalai Lama] is in human form, so there has to be degeneration of his body. According to the information we have received, the Chinese have already planned huge processes in place [for the reincarnation], and it is a huge cause of concern,” Sikyong Penpa Tsering said.