Tibetans in Lithang County experience tighter controls of religious and cultural activities
Free Tibet has learned that Chinese authorities in Lithang County, south-eastern Tibet, have implemented a range of restrictions on Tibetan religious and cultural activities. The measures, introduced earlier this year, have included evicting monks from the local monastery, confiscating land from local Tibetans and prohibiting horse racing.
Several senior monks at Lithang Monastery were evicted and prohibited from teaching either there or in the surrounding areas. This ban was also extended to young novices from the monastery who are being pushed out into local schools.
Families who have chosen to send their children to the monastery to study are being coerced by local authorities to stop and enroll them into a non-monastic school. Some families are believed to have complied and withdrawn their children from the monastery last month.
Local Tibetans believe these measures have been put in place to restrict Tibetan Buddhism rather than improve educational standards, given the poor conditions of local schools. Lithang Monastery was well regarded by many locals whose children would go to the monastery during the winter holidays to study Tibetan grammar and poetry.
It has also been reported that local authorities have confiscated the land and property of local Tibetans, worth 9,000,000 Chinese Yuan, on the pretext of a tree planting scheme. No compensation has been offered to those who have had their land siezed.
Horse racing has also been banned in Lithang and several horse racers have been arrested and beaten. Lithang has in the past been famed for its horse festival.
The restrictions have been implemented despite provisions within China's own constitution which are supposed to protect ethnic and religious minorities. Until recently Lithang authorities had relaxed controls on Tibetan Buddhism by, for example, not cracking down on possession of photos of the Dalai Lama and other spiritual teachings.
Information supplied by Tibet Watch.
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