Chinese authorities in Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) have issued a notification banning members of the Party, cadres, government officials and even students from participating in religious activities such as the Sagadawa[i].
The notification, issued by the TAR Committee for Discipline Inspection and Supervision Department, stated that participation in religious activities and rituals by Party members, cadres, and students amounts to “serious violations of political discipline and stability work” and severe punishment will be meted out accordingly, reported the official Tibet Daily newspaper on 24 May 2012.
The official notice made special mention of ‘some Party members and cadres particularly some retired personnel who still believe in religion, participate in religious activities, and illegally cross the border to attend religious teachings by the Dalai Lama’, saying such behavior shows that their political stand is not strong, and the pendulum of their ‘understanding of the struggle against separatist activities is not stable swinging openly towards the Dalai Lama’.
It also ordered the strengthening of supervision and inspection work ‘to uphold and enforce political discipline, [to] strictly and quickly investigate the behavior of party members and cadres who follow the Dalai Lama clique to undermine national unity, and endanger the unity of the motherland,’ adding that such offense would be ‘dealt with severely according to law.’
The notification pointed out the ‘struggle against separatism’, the ‘relationship between national security and national unity’, and ‘stability in border areas’ as major political issues for the government.
Any ‘dereliction of duty’ toward stability maintenance work will be investigated and ‘severely punished’ with the responsibility lying chiefly lie with the ‘main leadership of the unit under who the party members and cadres failed ‘to actively perform their duties to educate and guide families and those around them to not participate in the “Sagadawa” religious activities’, the report quoted the notification.
The notification warned that no matter how much credit any officer or party member had earned so far or how high one’s position is, the failure to ensure stability would lead to immediate firing after which the case will be referred to the Discipline Inspection and Supervision department and the Organizational and Personnel Departments for investigation. It also said that information regarding such cases will be released in major news media in the region.
The notice said forces of instability inside and outside Tibet has further increased the pressure on the government’s anti-stability work especially during large-scale religious festivals such as Sagadawa when many pilgrims visit Tibet and the tourist arrival in Tibet is at its peak.
The TAR Committee Discipline and Inspection Department also called for the strengthening of supervision and inspection work in regards to the implementation of an 18-point regulation introduced in February 2012. Citing the new rules, the circular directed the party members and cadres particularly the special cadres deployed in towns and villages as well as staff of the Monastery Management Committees to quickly respond and immediately tackle
To ensure and maintain the ‘Party’s purity and stability work in implementing stability-maintenance measures’, the notification directed the police stations to quickly respond to emergency situations by ‘focusing on prevention and control of key positions, all localities and units of the internal security work, leading cadres at all levels’ and to strictly implement stability maintenance work.
Since the beginning of this year, 19 officials in Tibet, both of Tibetan and Chinese descent, have either been demoted or fired for failing to implement stability maintenance work, according to information received by TCHRD[ii].
A lot of emphasis is put on maintaining stability, which translates into widespread crackdown on the rights and interests of the Tibetan people not only in TAR but also in Tibetan areas of Kham and Amdo incorporated into Chinese provinces.
Of particular concern is the fate of thousands of Tibetans who last year attended the Kalachakra teachings given by the Dalai Lama in India. On their return home to Tibet, hundreds of Tibetan pilgrims were arrested at the border and taken to political education sessions for months. The current notice apparently warns these pilgrims for ‘illegally crossing the border to attend the Dalai Lama’s teachings,’ and warned of further review of their cases.
[i] Saka Dawa is one of the most important sacred Buddhist days. The full moon day of Saka Dawa commemorates Lord Buddha’s birth, enlightenment, and parinirvana (death). The celebrations usually last the whole fourth Tibetan month.
[ii] For more on this, please see TCHRD report, China demotes 6 Tibetan officials in TAR