China Rewards ‘Harmonious’ Monasteries, ‘Patriotic’ Monks, Nuns

The Chinese government has conferred awards on ‘harmonious’ monasteries and ‘patriotic’ monks and nuns at a ceremony held on 19 April 2012 in Lhasa, Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR).

Reporting on the award ceremony presided over by TAR Party Secretary Chen Quanguo, the Chinese government-owned website, said the recipients of the first award ceremony for the harmonious model monasteries and law-abiding, patriotic and advanced monks include 59 monasteries and nunneries, 58 Monastery Management Committees (MMCs), 6,773 monks and nuns, and 200 ‘outstanding cadres’ posted in monasteries in recognition of their good work.

The report said the ‘law-abiding advanced monks and nuns’ of the Harmonious Model Monasteries shall be awarded with government subsidies. These subsidies include free pension, medical insurance and an annual free health check up.

Addressing the ceremony, TAR Party Secretary Chen Quanguo said the monks and nuns should ‘effectively recognize the politics of the Dalai Clique’s reactionary, religious hypocrisy, deceptive means’ and separate themselves from separatist activities by ‘draw[ing] a line with the Dalai Clique’ and not participating in separatist activities to “disrupt social order”, according to the news report.

Since October 2011, the ‘work teams’ instituted by the Chinese government have organized relentless ‘patriotic re-education’ sessions in various Tibetan monasteries and nunneries in the TAR. This increased repression on Tibetan Buddhist institutions are accompanied by new coercive programs such as the Nine-Must-Haves and The Six Ones, and rewarding Harmonious Model Monastery and law-abiding, patriotic and advanced monks and nuns.

The work teams have also taken over the complete authority and management of the monasteries from the monks. Monks and nuns are punished and arrested for not complying with the work teams and this has resulted in the closure of many monasteries. To escape the psychologically-intrusive and spiritually-revolting re-education sessions, many monks have left their monasteries, hiding and taking shelter in nearby forests and hills.

The newly established Monastery Management Committee (MMC), an unelected committee made up of Communist Party cadres, now manages important monastic affairs replacing the power and authority of the erstwhile Democratic Management Committees (DMCs). A Communist Party cell is embedded in every MMC. This move is aimed at keeping a check on the activities of the monasteries and to bar any political activities. The setting up of MMCs has enabled the Chinese authorities to keep a tighter surveillance and control over Tibetan monasteries.

Intrusive, coercive programs like the Six Ones and Nine-Must-Haves are now being implemented with alarming regularity in Tibet. All major monasteries in Tibet now have police stations in their compounds.

At Drepung, Gaden and Sera, Tibet’s three biggest monasteries, People’s Armed Police camps called the Armed Police Fire Brigade are also being constructed.

Tibetan monastries and nunneries are now required to hang portraits of four past and present Chinese Communist leaders and the Chinese national flags in their inner compounds. Refusal to comply with these directives have resulted on the arrests of monks and nuns, closure of monasteries and even caused the death of some monks.

In the beginning of April 2012, an elderly monk of Denchokor Monastery, Jomda (Chinese: Jiangda) County, Chamdo (Chinese: Qamdo) TAR, died of heart attack after the Chinese government work teams forcibly hung portraits of Chinese leaders and Chinese flags in the monastery. The unidentified elderly monk’s death was directly caused by the anger and shock he underwent during the portrait-hanging session. Many monks have left Denchokor Monastery which now remains vacant.

Similar coercive programs were implemented in February 2012 in Diru (Chinese: Biru) County, in Nagchu (Chinese: Naqu) TAR. Twenty of the around 22 monasteries and nunneries in Diru have been closed after the monks staged mass boycotts following the re-education sesssions.

In March 2012, monks at Lhundhing Monastery in Ngamring (Chinese: Angren) County, Dachu Township, Shigatse (Chinese: Rikaze) TAR protested against attempts to hoist Chinese flags by complaining that such practices were politics and not related to religion. This protest led to the arrest of five monks and the eventual hoisting of Chinese flags at the monastery.

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