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Restrictions in Tibet tighter than ever: New report on eve of 1959 revolt

A Freedom House report states that freedom of religion continues to be “harshly restricted” in the Tibet Autonomous region. The report was released on the eve of the 60th anniversary of the aborted March 10 uprising of 1959.

world Updated: Mar 09, 2019 19:22 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Beijing
tibet,tibet restrictions,dalai lama
A report, released on the eve of the March 1959 uprising, by the Freedom House states that freedom of religion continues to be “harshly restricted” in the Tibet Autonomous region.(AFP)

Freedom of religion continues to be “harshly restricted” in Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) because Beijing interprets veneration to the India-based Dalai Lama as part of the separatist ideology and against the Communist Party of China (CPC).

Overall, the status of religious worship, individual rights and civil liberties in TAR worsened in 2018, a report by Freedom House, a US-based non-profit working on political freedom and human rights, added.

“New regulations on religious affairs came into effect in February 2018, reiterating many existing restrictions while strengthening controls on places of worship, travel for religious purposes, and children’s religious education, including in Tibetan areas,” the report said.

The report was released on the eve of the 60th anniversary of the aborted March 10 uprising in 1959 during which the Dalai Lama and his followers fled to India through what is now known as Arunachal Pradesh.

India’s decision to grant asylum to the Dalai Lama adversely impacted bilateral ties with India and is counted among the reasons for the 1962 war.

China views the Nobel Peace laureate as a dangerous separatist and accuses him of inciting dozens of self-immolations in the recent past in TAR and adjoining Tibetan areas.

Sixty years later, Beijing continues to react strongly if political leaders meet the Dalai Lama, 83, in India or abroad.

Meanwhile, in TAR, the government has taken steps to prevent any commemoration of the revolt on Sunday, and on March 14, that of the 10 years of riots in the province when members of both Han and Tibetan communities were killed in clashes and subsequent crackdown by authorities.

The government has banned foreigners from traveling to TAR until April 1 as part of its efforts, according to rights groups, to strictly clamp down on any kind of activity to mark the dates.

New restrictions flow from the hardline rule that Beijing is said to have implemented in TAR over the decades.

Besides severe limits on individual rights, the Freedom House report added that CPC continues to control and guide opinion among the Tibetans

“Ideological education campaigns reach most monasteries and nunneries in the region. In 2018, the effort included the obligatory study of the “spirit” of the October 2017 19th Party Congress. Such campaigns typically force participants to recognise the CPC claim that China “liberated” Tibet and to denounce the Dalai Lama,” the report on Tibet is part of the larger “Freedom in the World 2019” report compiled by the group.

Beijing, however, claims that the remote region has seen unprecedented development - following liberation from “serfdom” in 1959 - and prosperity under CPC rule, and that there is no love lost for the Dalai Lama in the province.

Reports say many Tibetans in China still venerate the Dalai Lama despite restrictions on displays of his picture in TAR.

The CPC’s top official in TAR doesn’t agree.

“Since defecting, the Dalai Lama hasn’t done a single good thing for the people of Tibet,” Tibet’s CPC chief Wu Yingjie said this week on the sidelines of the Two Session, China’s Parliament.

“The people of Tibet have weighed things up, and really thank the Communist Party for the happy life it has brought them,” he added.

First Published: Mar 09, 2019 19:11 IST