Thursday, February 19, 2009

Article - 'Say no to separatism'

Straits Times Feb 19, 2009

BEIJING - TIBET'S official Buddhist association called on lamas and nuns to reject the Dalai Lama and separatist activities as China braces for possible further unrest ahead of politically sensitive anniversaries.

March marks the first anniversary of protests and deadly riots in the regional capital, Lhasa, and the 50th anniversary of the Dalai Lama's flight into exile after a failed uprising against Chinese rule.

China's Communist Party has ruled Tibet with an iron fist since People's Liberation Army troops marched into the mountainous region in 1950 and brands the exiled Dalai Lama a 'splittist'. The Dalai Lama says he only wants more autonomy for the region.

Tibet's government-sanctioned Buddhist association (as all religious organisations in China are) had 'unanimously endorsed' (notice the quotation marks!) a revision to their constitution calling on local nuns and monks to reject the Dalai Lama and separatist activities at their annual congress this week, Xinhua news agency said on Thursday.

Monks and nuns should 'safeguard social stability, the socialist legal system and fundamental interests of the people", and should 'consciously keep themselves away' from separatist activities and illegal demonstrations that impair social order, Xinhua quoted the new constitution as saying.

It urged monks to 'see clearly that the 14th Dalai Lama is the ringleader of the separatist political association which seeks 'Tibet independence', a loyal tool of anti-China Western forces, the very root that causes social unrest in Tibet and the biggest obstacle for Tibetan Buddhism to build up its order', the agency said.

The Tibetan government's religious affairs committee had also awarded 36 monks and nuns and 10 monasteries with the title of 'patriotic and law-abiding' models, Xinhua said.

Nearly a year after the Lhasa riots fanned protest and violence in other ethnic Tibetan areas of China, killing at least 19 people, China has cautiously opened up monasteries to the devout.

But security remains tight and monks must attend patriotic education classes, (Note this second instance of religion being tightly controlled by the state) along with their Buddhist scripture studies.

Analysts outside of Tibet say an extensive crackdown, including fresh arrests, should make a repeat of last year's unrest unlikely, but local officials are not ruling it out.

Authorities detained 24 people for marching and shouting support for the Dalai Lama in Lithang, an ethnic Tibetan region of southwest Sichuan province, an overseas rights group said this week.

Local police denied any knowledge. -- REUTERS

Related sites:
Related video: March 2008 Tibetan Protest in Lhasa

  1. Why do some Tibetans pursue "greater autonomy" for Tibet? (Consider the issue of Chinese identity)
  2. In view of the above articles and your own research, what are the challenges faced by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in its governance of China and what measures have they adopted to deal with the problems?

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