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Beijing Trightens up Control Over Monasteries and & Mosques

August 27, 2010

by B.Raman
Sri Lanka Guardian
August 25, 2010

Chennai -- Acting jointly, China's Ministry of
Public Security and the United Front Work
Department of the Central Committee of the
Communist Party of China have tightened up their
control over the Buddhist monasteries in the
Tibetan areas of China and over the mosques in
the Xinjiang Autonomous Region. While the
tightened supervisory measures over the mosques
in Xinjiang have preceded the onset of the holy
fasting period of the Muslims, the measures in
the Tibetan areas have followed the recent
high-profile visit of the Party/Government
designated Panchen Lama to Lhasa and other areas
in Tibet. A note recorded by me on June 17,2010,
on the Panchen Lama's visit to Tibet under the
title "Bringing up their Panchen Lama".

2. To discuss the tightening of supervision over
the monasteries, the United Front Work
Department, which, inter alia, is responsible for
organising the periodic talks between the party
and senior representatives of His Holiness the
Dalai Lama, organised a meeting on August 14 and
15, 2010, at Shigatse. Heads of all Buddhist
monasteries in the Tibetan-inhabited provinces
were required to attend the meeting. An official
of the United Front Work Department has been
quoted as saying in connection with the
responsibility of his Department to ensure better
supervision over the monasteries: "Competent
Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns who are
politically reliable, extraordinarily learned and
widely respected should be selected to monastery
management committees through thorough democratic
consultation." There has, however, been no
reference to the envisaged role of the Panchen Lama in this regard.

3. Subsequently. the Ministry of Public Security
held a conference of senior officials of the
branches of the Ministry in the Tibetan-inhabited
provinces. These branches are called Public
Security Bureaus. This was held at Lhasa on
August 18 and 19,2010.The objective of this
conference was described as "to assess the
results and experiences of upholding public
security, struggle against the current separatist
movement, and identified current challenges
facing stability in Tibetan areas.” It was
reported by local Chinese officials that the
conference discussed future action plans “to step
up the fight against separatists; build bodies to
protect social security; increase border
security; and improve communication
infrastructure, uniform and skills of the public
security bureaus”. An official of the United
Front Work Department briefed the conference on
the deliberations of the meeting held by his Department.

4. The tightening of supervision over the
Buddhist monasteries by the Party as well as the
Government indicates their continuing nervousness
over the loyalty of the local monks to His
Holiness the Dalai Lama and their reluctance to
support the Panchen Lama nominated by the
Government and the Party. The Ministry of Public
Security and the United Front Work Department
were even earlier holding so-called re-education
classes for the monks to stress the importance of
patriotism and loyalty to the party and the
Panchen Lama. Such re-education is likely to be
stepped up in the wake of these two conferences.

5. A project for the re-education of the Muslim
clerics in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region has
simultaneously been undertaken. Its object is to
underline the importance of patriotism and party
loyalty as in the case of the monks. It has the
additional objective of ridding Islam as
practised in China of any vestiges of
extra-territorial loyalty. Encouraging Islam in
Chinese colours is the main objective. This drive
has created some resentment among the Muslims
because some of the meetings under this drive
were held in the premises of local mosques and
these were attended by non-Muslim officials and
party cadres. While the Buddhist monks have not
objected to non-Buddhist functionaries holding
party meetings in their places of worship, the
Uighur Muslims have strongly resented such practices.

6. Local Uighurs and members of the Uighur
diaspora have strongly protested against a
meeting organized by the Party’s Peyziwat
(population 330,000) County Committee at a
village mosque in the Kashgar prefecture on July
24 to hold a speech contest on the topic "Love
the Country, Promote the Homeland" in the presence of 35 religious leaders.

7. Mrs. Rebiya Kadeer,President of the
Munich-based World Uighur Congress, who lives in
the US, has stated in an interview that she was
shocked by the pictures of the party meeting held
in the mosque.Mr. Abdukadir Asim, an Uighur
cleric based in Turkey, has said: "It is a common
principle among all religions that the privacy of
the place of worship is fundamental. It is a
strange and abhorrent event that communist
propaganda was conducted in a mosque. I don’t
believe it has ever happened before, anywhere
else in the world.” He has criticized the General
Secretary of the Organization of the Islamic
Conference, Mr.Ekmelledin Ihsanoglu, who visited
China recently for not raising with the Chinese
authorities the question of the violation of the
religious rights of the Uighurs in China. He
added:“The action of holding a communist activity
in a mosque ridicules not only Uighurs but also
the whole Islamic world. The international
community should speak out about this event."

8. Addressing a meeting of Muslim clerics at
Hetian in Xinjiang on August 21, Mr. Jia Qinglin
, Chairman of the National Committee of the
Chinese People’s Political Consultative
Conference (CPPCC), called for greater efforts by
local religious circles to contribute to the
long-term stability and development of Xinjiang.
He praised the contribution of patriotic
religious personalities and claimed that the
Government and the party attached great
importance to the education and cultivation of
religious believers, showed care for their lives
and work, and supported their religious
activities. He appealed to the clerics to help
consolidate national unity and harmonious
religious relations and to resist and eliminate
the influence of religious extremism.

9. Simultaneously with action to tighten control
over the mosques, the Government has initiated a
programme for the demolition of exclusively
Uighur residential areas in Urumqi, the capital,
and forcing the displaced Uighurs to re-settle in
apartments built for them in the residential
areas of the Han Chinese. This has also been
resented by the leaders of the Uighur community
who look upon it as an attempt to destroy the
ethnic identity of the Uighurs. In this
connection, please see my article dated June 23,
2010, titled “China to De-Emphasise Uighur Identity of Xinjiang”.

10. There is considerable unhappiness among the
Uighurs of Xinjiang over the fact that the
Islamic world, which never misses an opportunity
to protest over the violation of the human rights
of the Muslims in other countries, remains silent on this issue in China.

* The writer is Additional Secretary (retd),
Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi,
and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical
Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai
Centre For China Studies. E-mail:
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