Officials in a Tibetan-populated area of China’s Sichuan province have summoned more than a hundred Tibetan religious leaders for meetings to gain their political loyalty as authorities move to counter local opposition to Beijing’s rule, sources said.
The officials demanded that the senior religious instructors and monastery heads take “joy” in the leadership of the ruling Chinese Communist Party during the meetings last week in Kardze (in Chinese, Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture’s Dartsedo (Kangding) county, an India-based Tibetan monk told RFA’s Tibetan Service on Tuesday.
“Three main themes were presented in the training—‘five joys,’ ‘two commitments,’ ‘and ‘three responsibilities,’” the monk, Jampa Yonten, said, citing contacts in Kardze.
Among the five joys, “the most important joys were joy taken in the Chinese government and joy taken in the Chinese Communist Party,” Yonten said.
“Participants were told to keep these two joys especially in mind,” he said.
Also included in the list were joy taken in the “unity of [China’s] nationalities” and joy taken in one’s own nationality, religion, and culture, Yonten said.
Those attending the meetings were further urged to “commit” themselves to obeying Chinese law and to uphold monastic vows, as well as to take “responsibility” for China’s government and ethnic nationalities and for their own families, Yonten said.
'Striking back at separatism'
Sichuan’s Kardze prefecture has been the scene of many of the 131 self-immolation protests staged to date by Tibetans opposing Chinese rule and calling for the return of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.
Along with taking part in burning protests, Tibetans in Kardze have also championed Tibetan language and religious rights, causes frequently opposed by Chinese authorities as expressions of Tibetan national and cultural identity.
“Striking back at ‘separatism’ was the most important instruction given in the training by the Chinese authorities, according to government officials conducting the meetings,” Yonten said, adding that a number of Tibetan monks were also on hand to assist officials as instructors.
Participants were also told that though freedom of religion in China is guaranteed, “elaborate rituals should be simplified,” he said.
In another move aimed at countering Tibetan opposition to Chinese rule, authorities in Kardze prefecture’s Kardze county last month forced area residents to take part in exercises designed to block self-immolations and other local protests, sources said.
“Tibetan [government] employees in the Kardze area were coerced to participate in an official mock exercise in Kardze town on May 26,” one source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“They were threatened that they and their parents and other family members would be investigated if they refused to be involved in the exercise,” the source said.
“Many had no choice but to take part,” he said.
Sporadic demonstrations challenging Beijing’s rule have continued in Tibetan-populated areas of China since widespread protests swept the region in 2008.
Reported by Dawa Dolma for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.