Stop China's War on Buddhism

Stop China’s War on Buddhism

Tibetan Buddhism has never faced a greater threat

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Tibetan Buddhism is Under Attack

For centuries, Buddhism has stood at the heart of Tibet’s unique national identity, society and culture. To the Chinese government, however, Tibetan Buddhism is a threat to its rule and a challenge to its goal of colonising Tibet.

Undermining and eliminating the unique practices of Tibetan Buddhism is central to the Chinese government’s policy of eradicating Tibetan resistance to its rule. As a result, every single aspect of Tibetan Buddhism is subject to intrusive state interference. For individual Buddhist practitioners, particularly monks and nuns, the consequences of this intervention can lead to unjust persecution under the full force of China’s security apparatus.

In this shocking footage below, Chinese authorities can be seen physically removing nuns while they cry in pain at being forced to leave Kharmar Monastery in Linxia Hui, part of historic Tibet. This incident is not an isolated event, but part of China’s wider war on Buddhism.

 

We need to demand our governments take action. Add your voice to our urgent petition, urging our foreign ministers to contact the Chinese government with the following demands:

  1. Push for foreign missions to be granted access to Drago County to assess the damage to religious sites
  2. Collaborate with the Tibetan community to restore the demolished sites and statues with respect and in accordance with their spiritual leaders and traditional practices.
  3. Release all Tibetans who have been arbitrarily detained in Drago County for sharing information about, opposing or expressing sadness about these demolitions.
  4. Respect the Tibetan people’s rights to freedom of religion and culture and immediately cease practices that violate these rights.

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Repression Under Chinese Occupation

In the centuries following Buddhism’s introduction to Tibet in the 7th century CE, it has become fundamentally entwined with the region’s history, culture and society. The importance of Tibetan Buddhism to the lives of Tibetans is captured in its monasteries and nunneries. These institutions act not only as locations for religious practice, but also serve the community by providing secular education, arbitration in disputes, loans to local families, grants to local businesses, and offering a safety net during times of economic hardship.

Despite being an atheist regime, the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) repression in Tibet has extended to matters of religion. Echoing Mao Zedong’s belief that ‘religion is poison’, Xi Jinping has stated that any religion under his rule must conform to the CCP’s ideology. Monks and nuns, monasteries and nunneries that resist CCP dogma are subject to extreme repression.

On matters of reincarnation and the identity of Tibetan religious leaders, including the Dalai Lama, the CCP is adamant that they, rather than Tibetan Buddhists themselves, know best.

After the Dalai Lama – Tibet’s most revered spiritual leader – was forced to flee Tibet in 1959, the CCP has gone to great lengths to purge any image, teachings or memory of him from his homeland. Those found to be in possession of an image of the Dalai Lama, whether printed or digital, are subjected to substantial prison time and political re-education.

Religious Repression

Acts as innocuous as owning a photograph of the Dalai Lama, or expressing displeasure at Chinese rule, can lead to arrest, imprisonment and political re-education. In homes and at religious sites, Tibetan Buddhists are forced to display portraits of China's political leaders in place of Tibetan religious figures.

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A Renewed War on Buddhism

The Chinese government’s repression of Buddhism in Tibet continues to this day and is only getting worse. Demolitions at Larung Gar and Yarchen Gar Buddhist academies have led to the displacement of thousands of practitioners, and the arrest of at least 900 monks and nuns who were later imprisoned or sent for “re-education”.

In late 2021, Free Tibet’s research partner, Tibet Watch, uncovered a new era of religious persecution in Drago County, in the eastern Tibetan province of Kham. There, it was revealed that the CCP was unleashing a renewed attack on Tibetan Buddhism, targeting Buddhist infrastructure in an attempt to prevent Buddhist teaching and practice.

  • 4,725

    Homes Destroyed

    Thousands of Tibetan Buddhists at Larung Gar Buddhist Academy in eastern Tibet were forcibly removed and returned to their native regions of Tibet, often miles away from their colleagues and friends.

  • 5,000

    Tibetans Evicted

    Thousands of nuns were evicted from Yarchen Gar Buddhist Academy in Kardze, eastern Tibet, in 2017. This equated to roughly 50% of the Buddhist complex's total population at that time.

  • 130

    Students Denied Education

    Following the forced demolition of the Gaden Rabten Namgyaling school in Drago County, eastern Tibet, over 100 children were left without vital cultural and religious education.

In Drago County, a monastic school has been demolished on the orders of Chinese authorities, leaving some 130 students without a Tibetan education. Three sacred statues were destroyed, one of which was built by the community to protect against natural disasters. 45 giant prayer wheels were dismantled, and the buildings they were housed in removed. Prayer flags around Drago Monastery were also removed from their staves and burned.

Authorities extended their campaign of repression in Drago County beyond physical destruction, towards religious and political persecution. Since October 2021, at least 12 Tibetans have been unjustly detained by Chinese state security for a variety of reasons. Those arrested have been sent for political re-education in previously-unknown facilities, where they have been subjected to severe torture and mistreatment.

Demolished monastic school in Drago County

Demolished monastic school in Drago County

 

Stop China’s War on Buddhism

The people of Drago County, and Tibet, are resisting but need our support and justice. But we cannot stop the crimes of the Chinese Communist Party alone. We need you to join us in taking action.

We must demand our governments take action now. Add your voice to our urgent petition, urging our foreign ministers to contact the Chinese government with the following demands:

  1. Push for foreign missions to be granted access to Drago County to assess the damage to religious sites
  2. Collaborate with the Tibetan community to restore the demolished sites and statues with respect and in accordance with their spiritual leaders and traditional practices.
  3. Release all Tibetans who have been arbitrarily detained in Drago County for sharing information about, opposing or expressing sadness about these demolitions.
  4. Respect the Tibetan people’s rights to freedom of religion and culture and immediately cease practices that violate these rights.

It’s time to stand up and be counted!

Take Action

Urgent Actions

The Chinese Communist Party’s cultural genocide in Tibet penetrates many levels of Tibetan Buddhism. Click on a campaign below to find out more and take action.

Urgent Actions

Panchen Lama

In 1995, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima turned six years old. Barely a month later, he became the world's youngest political prisoner.

Urgent Actions

Drago County

Drago County in Kardze, eastern Tibet, is the latest target in an ongoing assault on Tibetan Buddhism. Schools, statues, and religious objects have all been destroyed by the CCP.

Urgent Actions

Dalai Lama

In defiance of the deeply held wishes of the Tibetan people, China's government intends to appoint its own candidate as the next Dalai Lama.

Further Reading

Further Reading

Larung Gar

Spread among the hills in Serta County in Kardze, eastern Tibet, Larung Gar Buddhist Institute is the largest and one of the most significant sites in Tibetan Buddhism.

Further Reading

Religion

The Chinese government sees Tibetan Buddhism as a threat and is trying to weaken Tibetans’ connection to it in order to weaken their Tibetan identity and strengthen Chinese control over Tibet.

Further Reading

Yarchen Gar

Since at least 2002, thousands of homes at Yarchen Gar have been demolished and according to some reports, by 2018 half of the 10,000 residents had been forced out.

We are Free Tibet, and we stand with Tibetans around the world. For their homeland, for their future and against China’s brutal occupation.