Lhasa Area Monks and Nuns Face a New Round of "Patriotic Education"
Officials in the Lhasa area are increasing both supervision of "patriotic education" programs conducted in Tibetan monasteries and nunneries and examinations of monks and nuns, according to a report by the India-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) on October 13.
A recurrent feature of religious education for Tibetan Buddhists, patriotic education seeks to promote Tibetan patriotism toward China. Classes focus on Chinese religious, social, political, and legal policy, and on the official Chinese account of Tibetan history. Monks and nuns must pass examinations, agree that Tibet is historically a part of China, accept the legitimacy of the Panchen Lama installed by the Chinese government, and denounce the Dalai Lama, Tibetan Buddhism's highest-ranking religious figure. The U.S. Department of State's International Religious Freedom Report 2004 noted that "the form, content, and frequency of training" can vary widely because "primary responsibility for conducting political education has shifted from government officials to monastery leaders."
Authorities began a three month program of patriotic education classes at Lhasa's Sera Monastery in April 2005, according to TCHRD. In July, when monks were to be tested, officials reportedly expelled 18 monks, of whom police detained eight. The report does not provide details about the monks, their activities, or current status. Patriotic education classes at Drepung Monastery, Lhasa's largest monastery, began in the first week of October, according to a TCHRD source.
In neighboring Lhundrub county, officials from the Religious Affairs Bureau arrived at Gyabdrag Nunnery in June and ordered 50 nuns to pose for individual photographs that the nuns believed would be used for "propaganda purposes," according to TCHRD. All of the nuns except six who were members of Gyabdrag’s Democratic Management Committee, refused to be photographed. Officials then revoked the nuns’ authorizations to live at the nunnery and receive religious training. According to an unconfirmed report received by TCHRD, officials conducting patriotic education at Shugsib Nunnery in Chushur county, adjacent to Lhasa, expelled 13 nuns. No details about them are available.
Additional information on Chinese religious policy and religious freedom for Tibetans in China is available in the CECC 2005 Annual Report.