Panel condemns Chinese crackdown on Kirti Monastery

NEW DELHI: A panel of distinguished speakers today criticised the series of severe crackdowns initiated by the Chinese authorities on Kirti Monastery in Ngaba area of northeastern Tibet as an attempt to change and neutralise Tibet’s distinctive religious and cultural character.

The discussion titled “Renewed Religious Repression in Tibet: Siege of Kirti Monastery” was organised jointly by All Party Indian Parliamentary Forum for Tibet and Core Group for Tibetan Cause, India at the India International Center in New Delhi.

Ambassador Dalip Mehta, former ambassador to Bhutan and the Central Asian Republics of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan said the ongoing crisis in Ngaba once again highlights the brutality of Chinese government and its barbaric human rights abuses in Tibet. Chinese policies in Tibet over the last five decades, Ambassador Mehta said, are aimed at making Tibetans a minority in their own homeland and promoting sinification of Tibetan character, culture, and identity. He said Tibetan religion is the bedrock of Tibetan culture and civilisation, therefore, destroying Tibetan religious culture is tantamount to obliterating the unique cultural identity of Tibetan people and their sense of nationhood.

Ambassador Mehta said brutal Chinese retaliations to Tibetan grievances have become a “spectacular failure” because it has failed to break the will and spirit of the Tibetans and has only worsened the widening gap between the Tibetan and Chinese people. “The Chinese authorities have failed to understand the psyche of the Tibetan people,” Ambassador Mehta said.

Kalon Tempa Tsering, representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in New Delhi said the crisis at Kirti Monastery is a symptom of general Tibetan resentment against decades of wrong and unjust Chinese policies of discrimination, destruction and exploitation in Tibet. Instead of genuinely understanding and addressing Tibetan grievances, Kalon Tempa Tsering said the Chinese authorities have resorted to repressive and arbitrary measures of beating, arresting, detaining, and disappearing Tibetan protesters and their sympathisers as it happened at Kirti Monastery in Ngaba. 

If the Tibetans are so happy in China’s “socialist paradise”, why do we still have Tibetans risking their lives undertaking dangerous journeys across the Himalayas to escape into exile and why do we have young monks like Phuntsok and Tapey who set themselves on fire to protest Chinese policies, Kalon Tempa Tsering said. 

He said Tibetan monasteries are not just houses of worship but also centers of learning and fountainheads of Tibetan culture and civilisation. By cracking down on monastic institutions, he said, the Chinese authorities want to eliminate Tibetan identity and culture. But there is no death to human spirit despite all the torture, imprisonment, and repression, he said. “And the Tibetan spirit has not died, be it in exile or in Tibet.”

Veteran journalist and a seasoned Tibet analyst Mr. Vijay Kranti said the crisis at Kirti Monastery - the consistent protests and resistance against Chinese rule - has broken the myths China has promoted on Tibet. Mr Kranti said the self-immolated death of the 20-yr-old monk Phuntsok and the protests it sparked among both lay and monk population in Ngaba demonstrates the fact that Tibetans are not happy under Chinese rule as claimed repeatedly by Beijing. The level of resentment against Chinese rule is so high that young Tibetans educated in the Chinese system are willing to sacrifice their lives and express their faith and devotion to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, he added. 

Mr Kranti who travelled to Ngaba and Kandze areas in the past on photo expeditions said the Chinese way of showcasing Tibetan monasteries for tourist consumption may mislead some to think that there is genuine religious revival in Tibet. But this cosmetic revival aimed at making “touro-dollars” off the mystical qualities of Tibetan religion and culture has failed to overcome Tibetan resentments, he said. But far from the touristy dazzle in Ngaba that China calls economic development, reality for Tibetans have not changed much and the current crisis in Kirti Monastery provided sufficient evidence.

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