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China tightens control of Tibetan monasteries, blames "separatists"

October 14, 2010

Deutsche Presse Agentur (DPA)
October 11, 2010

Beijing - China plans to tighten control over
Tibetan Buddhist monasteries to reduce the
influence of the exiled Dalai Lama and other
'internal and external separatist forces,'
according to a government notice seen on Monday.

The State Administration of Religious Affairs
issued the 'Management measure for Tibetan
Buddhist monasteries and temples' to be applied
from November 1, saying it was devised in
response to a growing foreign influence and 'separatist activities.'

Monks at some monasteries had been influenced by
'internal and external separatist forces' and
engaged in 'disrupting national unity and
splitting the nation,' the administration said in
a notice on the new rules posted on its website.

'The existence of these problems has seriously
influenced the normal order of Tibetan Buddhism
... and even given the Dalai clique an
opportunity to plot and spread confusion in
Tibetan areas, and to engage in destructive
separatist activities,' it said, referring to the
exiled leader, the Dalai Lama.

The stricter management of monasteries was
designed to help 'maintain the normal order of
Tibetan Buddhism and build a socialist harmonious society,' the notice said.

The notice followed the reported sentencing of
two monks accused of leading anti-Chinese
protests in 2008 in Lhasa, the capital of China's Tibet Autonomous Region.

The Lhasa Intermediate People's Court sentenced
Jampel Wangchuk and Kunchok Nyima to life
imprisonment and 20 years in prison,
respectively, in June, the Indian-based Tibetan
Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) reported on Friday.

The two men were monks at Dreprung, one of the
largest and most important Tibetan Buddhist
monasteries, and were in a group of about 350
monks who marched into Lhasa from the monastery on March 10, 2008, TCHRD said.

Police arrested the two monks and some 40 others
in April 2008, but there was no confirmation of
what happened to them until last week, the group said.

Courts have already sentenced dozens of other
monks and lay Tibetans who joined the 2008
protests, according to state media and exile groups.

The protests began in Lhasa on the anniversary of
a 1959 uprising against Chinese rule and
escalated into ethnic violence and rioting that
left at least 21 people dead, according to the government.

The protests grew into widespread demonstrations
against Chinese rule in many Tibetan areas of China.

Exiles said they had evidence that dozens more
died in the violence, many of them Tibetan
protestors attacked by Chinese security forces.

In July, US-based Human Rights Watch called for
an investigation of China's abuses in its Tibetan
regions, saying witness accounts had confirmed
the use of 'disproportionate force and deliberate
brutality' during and since the 2008 protests.

The State Administration of Religious Affairs
said it began drafting the new management measure for monasteries in late 2008.

It said the measure would protect all 'lawful
activities' at monasteries, including training on
Tibetan Buddhist texts, publishing, and receiving
donations from domestic and overseas organizations and individuals.

After the 2008 protests, the government increased
security, turned away journalists from Tibetan
areas, limited access by foreign tourists and
temporarily suspended communications in some places.
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