WASHINGTON, DC, 16 February 2021
In the latest attempt to tighten its grip in Tibet, China is forcing the Tibetans to pay less attention to their religion and show more enthusiasm for president Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), according to a report by The Economist.
Beijing has also intensified its efforts to eradicate the Dalai Lama from the religious lives of Tibetans to crush their identity.
The Chinese government occupied Tibet in 1950 and has ever since tried to control the region.
The Dalai Lama, whom China views as overseer of an “evil clique” that seeks to split Tibet from China, escaped to India in 1959 and the 10the Panchen Lama (Lobsang Trinley Lhundrup Choekyi Gyaltsen) stayed behind in Tibet. He spoke against Chinese rule many times and wrote a report chronicling Tibet’s famines in the 1960s.
As per The Economist, the Tibetan religion like that of Muslim followers in Xinjiang is undergoing what the CCP term as “sinicisation”.
In Tibetan and Xinjiang, the Chinese authorities have launched attacks on people’s religion and cultural traditions.
While the Uyghurs have been moved to “re-education camps”, the Tibetan farmers have been moved to modern housing in or near towns and cities. Moreover, the Tibetan language has been replaced with Mandarin similar to that in Xinjiang.
“Surveillance has been stepped up. Networks of informers relay information to the state; smartphones are tapped. Just as Uyghurs can no longer make pilgrimages to Mecca, it has become almost impossible for Tibetans to travel to India to attend religious teachings given by the Dalai Lama, as many did before Xi took power in 2012,” The Economist said.
Unlike the Uyghurs, the Tibetans are allowed to use social media apps such as WeChat but with restrictions such as posting images of Dalai Lama can be an imprisonable offence.
“It seems these policies are aimed at creating future Tibetans who will not know about the Dalai Lama as having any role in Tibetan Buddhism except as an enemy,” Robbie Barnett, a scholar of Tibetan culture, was quoted as saying by The Economist.