Tibetan Buddhist school requires students to obey Communist Party, oppose separatists

Beijing is using such religious schools ‘Sinicize’ Tibetan Buddhism, says one rights activist.
By Sangyal Kunchok for RFA Tibetan
2023.03.23
Tibetan Buddhist school requires students to obey Communist Party, oppose separatists A banner praising China's Communist Party hangs from the front of the Jokhang temple in Tibet's regional capital Lhasa in an undated photo.
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A Tibetan Buddhist school in southwestern China is requiring entering students to obey the ruling Chinese Communist Party and oppose “separatists,” according to an admissions notice issued Thursday and obtained by Radio Free Asia.

The Tibetan Buddhist Institute in Sichuan province has made abiding by the CCP’s ideology and opposing those who advocate splitting the Tibet Autonomous Region from the rest of China conditions for being admitted to the school, which educates Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns. 

“Though the institute claims that its aim is to provide an opportunity to study Tibetan Buddhism, in reality, the Chinese government is using such institutions as a tool to Sinicize Tibetan Buddhism,” said Pema Gyal, a researcher at London–based Tibet Watch, a rights group.  

“So, from a human rights perspective, this is a violation of basic rights to education and determination.” 

China maintains a tight grip on Tibet, restricting Tibetans’ political activities and peaceful expression of cultural and religious identity as Buddhists. Tibetans frequently complain of discrimination and human rights abuses by Chinese authorities and policies they say are aimed at wiping out their national and cultural identity.

“These days the Chinese Communist government has started implementing these kinds of despotic guidelines in not just high schools, but also for those in middle and elementary schools,” Gyal said. “It’s obvious their intention is to forcibly Sinicize Tibetans.”

Additionally, imposing Tibetan monks and nuns to follow and respect communist ideology is against the customs of Buddhism and the law of causality that Buddhists follow, said Tibetan rights analyst Sangay Kyap, who lives in Spain. 

“And whatsoever it is, these requirements basically are intended to force Tibetans to disrespect the Dalai Lama,” he said, referring to the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists who resides in Dharamsala, India, with members of the Tibet government-in-exile.

The Sichuan Tibetan Buddhist Institute was founded in 1984, though it was initially situated in the Tibetan town of Kardze and later moved to Chengdu, Sichuan’s capital, in 2017. It offers religious instruction as well as instruction in Chinese socialist tradition and China’s history.

Translated by Tenzin Dickyi. Edited by Roseanne Gerin and Malcolm Foster.

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