Tibet: Freedom of Religion
Please join the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission for a hearing on freedom of religion in Tibet, including attention to the politically fraught issue of the Dalai Lama’s reincarnation.
Although Buddhism is one of five religions formally recognized by the Chinese state, the practice of Tibetan Buddhism is severely restricted by Chinese authorities. In the aftermath of a wave of protests across the Tibetan plateau in 2008, Communist Party leaders reinforced and expanded restrictive policies that were already fueling grievances. In the years since, Tibetan Buddhists have faced extensive controls on their religious life, including intrusive official presence in monasteries, pervasive surveillance, limits on travel and communications, and ideological reeducation campaigns. Religious expression and activism have been met with violent repression, imprisonment and torture. Conditions are especially difficult in the Tibet Autonomous Region, but controls have also been tightened in Tibetan areas of other provinces.
Tibetan Buddhism is distinguished by a centuries-long history of intertwined religious and political authority, represented in the figure of the Dalai Lama. Although the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, has lived in exile since 1959, and renounced his political role in 2011, Chinese authorities appear to fear his moral authority and legitimacy, and constantly vilify him. In light of the Dalai Lama’s advancing age, now 82, the question of his reincarnation has become a major source of tension with the Chinese government, which claims the prerogative of selecting his successor.
Witnesses will describe the conditions of religious life for Tibetans, share their experiences with restrictions on religious freedom and related human rights, analyze the potential political and strategic consequences of continued repression of Tibetans, and offer recommendations for U.S. government policy.
This hearing will be open to Members of Congress, congressional staff, the interested public, and the media. The hearing will be livestreamed via the Commission website, https://humanrightscommission.house.gov/news/watch-live. For any questions, please contact Kimberly Stanton at 202-225-3599 or Kimberly.Stanton@mail.house.gov (for Mr. McGovern) or Jamie Staley at 202-226-1516 or Jamie.Staley@mail.house.gov (for Mr. Hultgren).
Dr. Tenzin Dorjee, Commissioner, United States Commission on International Religious Freedom
Arjia Rinpoche, Director, Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center
Nyima Lhamo, Niece and Spokeswoman, Family of deceased monk Tenzin Delek Rinpoche
Todd Stein, Former Senior Advisor to the Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights and Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues
Dr. Tenzin Dorjee, Tibet: Freedom of Religion
Submitted for the Record