In 1995, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima turned six years old. Barely a month later, he became the world's youngest political prisoner.
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:
- Push for foreign missions to be granted access to Drago County to assess the damage to religious sites
- Collaborate with the Tibetan community to restore the demolished sites and statues with respect and in accordance with their spiritual leaders and traditional practices.
- Release all Tibetans who have been arbitrarily detained in Drago County for sharing information about, opposing or expressing sadness about these demolitions.
- Respect the Tibetan people’s rights to freedom of religion and culture and immediately cease practices that violate these rights.
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.