China’s government plans to appoint its own candidate as the next Dalai Lama. Free Tibet are calling on governments, religious authorities and organisations across the world to reject China’s plan, support the Tibetan people and ensure that no Chinese-appointed Dalai Lama will be given recognition anywhere in the world.
Free Tibet argue that China’s plan is in defiance of the deeply held wishes of the Tibetan people. The role has historically been filled by identifying the reincarnation of the previous Dalai Lama after his death. The current 14th Dalai Lama has made clear that no Chinese appointed Dalai Lama will be the legitimate leader of Tibetan Buddhism.
Free Tibet state “China already punishes Tibetans for practicing their religion as they choose. Its aim is to force a puppet Dalai Lama on Tibetans to neutralise Tibetan Buddhism’s independence and cement its hold on Tibet. It also hopes to undermine worldwide support for the Tibetan cause. Interfering in the selection of the Dalai Lama is a political act, a profound insult to the Tibetan people’s culture, desires and beliefs and a gross abuse of their religious freedom. It is vital that China understands that its plan will fail.”
In April President Xi Jinping said “Religious groups… must adhere to the leadership of the Communist Party of China.”
Beyond Belief, Free Tibet’s report, argues that “Religion is one of the most distinctive and important aspects of Tibet’s unique culture. For the Chinese government, however, religion in Tibet is a political and security issue. Subduing monasteries, monks and nuns and controlling how Tibetans practice their religion is central to its plans to eliminate Tibetan resistance to its rule.
The US State Department’s 2016 report on international religious freedom describes the repression of religious freedom in Tibet as “severe”. It records “reports of extrajudicial killings, prolonged detention without trial, torture, and arrests of individuals due to their religious practices”.
China’s control and suppression of Tibetan religious life is based on much more than violence. All aspects of Tibetan Buddhism are subject to state control and China has even claimed the right to appoint the leader of Tibetan Buddhism, the Dalai Lama.”
Read Beyond Belief: Religious Freedom in Tibet