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Military at Gaden Ngachod monastery
Miitary at monastery, 2015

Spotlight on monasteries

In Tibet today, local government and Communist Party officials take a direct role in the management of monasteries through “management committees”. Monasteries are required to fly Chinese flags and have portraits of the leaders of the Communist Party.  In 2015, a senior Communist official said that monks should behave in a “patriotic and law-abiding” manner. Surveillance cameras and even police stations are located inside and outside monasteries and regular inspections to uncover signs of loyalty to the Dalai Lama take place.

When unrest occurs in any Tibetan area, the security spotlight will fall on its religious institutions. Following political disturbances in Driru County in the Tibet Autonomous Region in 2013 and 2014, monks and nuns were arrested for both participating in protest and for allegedly planning future protests. 

They are often subject to “patriotic re-education” – intensive propaganda sessions in which teams of officials and party cadres subject monks and nuns to propaganda and compel them to agree that Tibet is an inalienable part of China or denounce the Dalai Lama. Monks and nuns who have refused to do so have been arrested, tortured and expelled from their monasteries.