Tibetans forced to display portraits of Chinese leaders

A Tibetan hangs up a newly-gifted portrait of Chinese President Xi Jinping, in Dzoge County in eastern Tibet in early 2020.

A Tibetan hangs up a newly-gifted portrait of Chinese President Xi Jinping, in Dzoge County in eastern Tibet in early 2020. File photo/Free Tibet

Tibet Sun Online News

ON THE WEB, 25 April 2020

Chinese authorities are forcing Tibetans to display portraits of Chinese leaders at their homes, replacing portraits of the Dalai Lama who they revere as their leader, according to Free Tibet, a London-based pro-Tibet organisation.

This policy is the latest in a series by the Chinese government to demand the loyalty of Tibetans to the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the People’s Republic of China.

Previously, this policy was only compulsory for Tibetan families that were dependent on state support under the poverty alleviation programme. The policy was extended to the wider community at the beginning of the year.

Authorities in the region have stated that people should “remember the gratitude of the Party and in the spirit of following the Party, all households, monasteries, schools and offices must display the portrait of top party leaders.”

Portraits were distributed across Tibet to villagers, schools, monasteries, and offices to hang on their walls, or altars, which are typically reserved for images of Buddha, the Dalai Lama, and other Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leaders.

It is reported that authorities are then inspecting each household to check whether this order has been carried out.

Tibet Watch, a monitoring group, has obtained images that showed the distribution of framed images of Chinese President Xi Jinping in Dzoge County in eastern Tibet. An estimated 14,000 images of this kind have been distributed across the county.

Since 2012, various programmes to ensure loyalty and patriotism among Tibetans to the CPC and the Chinese state have been launched. Under the pretext of the fight against separatism, the massive drive has been launched rigorously throughout Tibet since 2017.

Patriotic re-education, forced displays of loyalty to the Party and the state, eradication of connections to the Dalai Lama, and such similar efforts have been relentless in Tibet. The main objective of this programme is to transfer the reverence and loyalty that Tibetans have for the Dalai Lama and the Buddhism to the CPC leaders.

Tibetans are said to have been targeted or arrested by the Chinese authorities after they are being seen holding loyalty and faith in the Dalai Lama, as deviating from the rules of the programme.

Since the arrival of Xi Jinping in political leadership, the party’s approach to Tibetans has been more aggressive. This has been backed by ever-increasing surveillance alongside various programmes aimed to brainwash, indoctrinate, and transform the loyalties of Tibetans.

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