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.
13 October 2005 [news brief] China recommences "patriotic education" campaign in Tibet’s monastic institutions The People’s Republic of China recommenced implementation of the "patriotic education" campaign in monastic institutions in Tibet, according to testimonies received from Tibetan monks who fled into exile. There has been a noted rise in the intensity of the campaign, which is being carried out vigorously in the monastic institutions in and around Lhasa City, "Tibet Autonomous Region" (‘TAR’). Monks who fled Tibet in the aftermath of the campaign reported expulsions of monks from their monasteries. Three young Tibetan monks, who escaped from Tibet in September 2005, reported conduct of "patriotic education" in June 2005 in their monastery, Talung Monastery located in Phenpo Lhundrup County, Lhasa Municipality, ‘TAR’. The monastery which housed around 120 monks reportedly has only 20 monks who are registered with the Religious Bureau. Earlier the monks were issued with five different political literatures to study; two additional literatures were distributed in June 2005. The monks were notified that officials from the County Religious Bureau would arrive in the monastery in July 2005 to conduct examinations. Monks, above 18 years of age, were ordered to condemn the Dalai Lama as a "separatist," and to pledge loyalty to the mainland China during the next visit of the officials. Upon learning the pre-requisites set by the authorities for enrollment in monastery, a large number of monks left the monastery voluntarily before the arrival of the officials. In another instance, in June 2005, the officials from the Religious Bureau visited Gyabdak Nunnery, located in Dzongshul village in Phenpo Lhundrup County, "TAR" in June 2005. The officials conducted "patriotic education" and demanded the 50 nuns of the nunnery to pose for individual photographs. Except for six nuns who are members of the Nunnery’s Democratic Management Committee (DMC), the remaining nuns refused to comply with the order. Consequently the officials nullified their enrollment in the nunnery and called for their immediate expulsion. Reportedly the pictures were to be used for official propaganda purposes. The expelled nuns are reported to be staying in their respective homes currently. In the beginning of April 2005, officials from the Lhasa Religious Bureau began to conduct a three month long "patriotic education" campaign in Sera Monastery, one of the three great monasteries of Tibet. The monks were issued six different literatures to study and four education sessions per week were conducted. The literatures were titled "Handbook on Crushing the Separatists," "Handbook of Contemporary Policies," "Handbook of Policies on Religion," "Handbook on Law," "Handbook on Ethics for the Masses," "Handbook of History of Tibet". The monks were subjected to random questions regarding the texts, and an examination was conducted at the end of the campaign in July 2005 to test their knowledge regarding the handbooks and their allegiance to the state. Reportedly 18 monks were expelled out of which eight monks faced detention in the Public Security Bureau Detention Centre. In another reported incident, which could not be confirmed yet, 13 nuns from Shugseb Nunnery located in the outskirts of Lhasa City were expelled during the conduct of the "patriotic education" campaign in the nunnery. Another monk-refugee from Drepung Monastery in Lhasa who arrived into exile recently reported that the "patriotic education" campaign began in his monastery on the first week of October 2005. On 31 October 2004, Lobsang Gyurmey, head of the Committee for Patriotic Education in Lhasa, in his opening speech during the weeklong workshop for officials in charge of "patriotic education" in monasteries and nunneries in Lhasa, said, "Patriotic Education should be implemented absolutely in the monasteries and nunneries to prevent separatist activities. Precautionary measures should also be taken to stop the infiltration of literature from the splittist group based in exile." [Referring to Dharamsala