U.S. State Department highlights China’s “widespread interference” in Tibetan Buddhism

18th August 2017

State Department report shines light on China’s suppression of Tibetan Buddhism.

Earlier this month the US State Department published its annual ‘International Religious Freedom Report’ which highlighted the problems many Tibetans continue to face while practicing their faith.

The report begins by asserting: “[Chinese] authorities engaged in widespread interference in religious practices, especially in Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and nunneries”. Additionally it highlights reports of forced disappearance, physical abuse, prolonged detention without trial, and arrests of individuals due to their religious practices.

Travel restrictions and tightened security, often in advanced of the Dalai Lama’s birthday, as well as “institutionalized discrimination” are raised as problems which Tibetan’s continue to face.

Demolitions at Larung Gar

The State Department also noted developments in Larung Gar, the largest and one of the most significant sites in Tibetan Buddhism, and Yachen Gar where authorities have demolished homes and evicted more than 2,000 monks and nuns.

Free Tibet reported on the situation in Larung Gar in July 2016 when demolitions started a month after authorities announced plans to sharply reduce the population around the monastery.

The State Department also cites reports that authorities forced many monks and nuns evicted from Larung Gar to attend “patriotic” re-education classes for up to six months.

Religious protest and self-immolations

The report also notes the decline of self-immolation protests over the year. According to the State Department such incidents were down to three in addition to three other suicide protests. Although the report goes to raise human rights organisation’s concerns that government intimidation and the enforcement of collective punish for protesters may be projecting a false image of stability.

The US response

In the report the US also puts on record its own efforts to pressure Beijing to allow Tibetans to preserve, practice, teach, and develop their religious traditions and language. It also highlighted President Obama’s private meeting with the Dalai Lama in June 2016.


The Chinese government is threatening Tibetan culture. Religious freedom is not respected by Chinese authorities in Tibet.

13,000 of you have already signed up to our Beyond Belief campaign to prevent China from meddling in Tibetans' freedom of religion. We now want to take our campaign to the next level. If religious leaders from all faiths add their voice then world leaders will be forced to listen. Can you help us build this coalition to stand up for religious freedom in Tibet?