Sunday, 30 June 2013

China unofficially allowing religious worship of Dalai Lama in Tibet

BEIJING — A crack has appeared in China’s decades-old campaign against the Dalai Lama, with some monasteries reporting that they are no longer being forced to denounce the Tibetan religious leader.
The policy has been described by some as “experimental” and only seems to apply in certain areas.
Monks have reportedly been told that they may venerate the Dalai Lama as a spiritual figure as long as they do not treat him as a political leader.
That contradicts China’s official propaganda, which describes the 77-year-old monk as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing,” bent on splitting Tibet from China.
“Something will be announced in the next few days,” said a monk at the Kumbum Monastery in Qinghai province.
“I cannot discuss it over the telephone, but from now on the Dalai Lama will not be criticised and we can revere him,” he added.
A second monk, at the Ganzi Monastery in Sichuan, said: “We no longer have to criticise the Dalai Lama and we are allowed to hang his picture.”
The monk read out one message that has circulated inside monasteries which suggested security in Tibetan areas could be relaxed.
“In case of a large disturbance, soldiers will not be sent to suppress it immediately, the leader of the monastery and senior monks should deal with matters first,” it said.
Free Tibet, an advocacy group, said pictures of the Dalai Lama were also being permitted inside the Gaden Monastery in Lhasa.
The policy remains highly sensitive and several sources, including the local governments in Ganzi, Sichuan and Qinghai, bluntly denied its existence.
‘It may be possible that in certain areas the Chinese leadership is trying to please people by giving certain small concessions’
Jin Wei, a professor at the Central Party School in Beijing, said implementing the policy would be “very difficult.”
“The Dalai Lama’s identity is very complicated,” she said. “He has never been seen solely as a spiritual leader.”
After 120 self-immolations by Tibetans, there appears to be fresh debate inside the Communist party about the effectiveness of its policies in the ethnic region.
The Tibetan government-in-exile suggested the Chinese government may be trying to reduce the build-up of pressure and anger that is culminating in self-immolations.
“It may be possible that in certain areas the Chinese leadership is trying to please people by giving certain small concessions,” said a spokesman.
Robbie Barnett, the head of the Modern Tibet Studies programme at Columbia University, suggested that the reports “coincide with an important challenge we are seeing in some quarters in Beijing to Hu Jintao’s legacy and the hard-line policies in Tibet that he masterminded for 20 years.”
The Daily Telegraph

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