Monks at key Tibet temple in new 'education' push

The Economic Times, Apr 25, 2008,

BEIJING, China -- Authorities at a key Tibetan Buddhist temple have launched a new campaign to strengthen control over its monks and unite them around love of the Chinese "motherland", state media reported Friday.

The campaign at the Tashilunpo monastery in the city of Xigaze was focussed on increasing monks' "reverence for the law," the state-controlled Tibetan Daily said.

The campaign will "strengthen supervision of monks, and to the fullest extent, strive for solidarity and strike down the small numbers of stubborn separatists and criminals," it said.

The monastery is one of the most important in all of Tibetan Buddhism as it is the traditional base of the Panchen Lama, the second-highest Tibetan spiritual leader behind the Dalai Lama.

China has previously announced it would step up a campaign of "patriotic education" in Tibetan Buddhist monasteries following an outburst of violence in the region last month.

However, overseas pro-Tibet groups have criticised the campaign, saying it typically involves forcing monks to denounce the Dalai Lama and further inflames anger at perceived religious persecution of the region by Beijing.

"The campaign will help monks to learn the law, know the law, and understand the law and raise the idea of obeying the law to a high level," the Tibetan Daily said of the Tashilunpo education campaign.

"The ultimate objectives include uniting monasteries, in word and deed, on safeguarding the motherland... and on reverence for the law."

The Dalai Lama's special envoy to the United States, Lodi Gyari, Wednesday told a US congressional committee that such campaigns were worsening the situation in Tibet.

"Beijing must now reverse course. Chinese leaders must look to the underlying causes of the problems... and reach out to His Holiness and the Tibetan people in the spirit of inclusion and mutual benefit so that together we can achieve peace in Tibet," he said, according to a congressional transcript.