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In its 2009 Report on
International Religious Freedom, the U.S. Department of State noted that China
has taken some positive "rhetorical steps to promote religious activity
within the framework of state-sanctioned Patriotic Religious Associations,"
and that there is increased space for some unregistered religious groups to
worship. Nonetheless, China's repression of religious freedom continued,
including in Tibetan areas.
When it comes to freedom of religion in China, there are a range of issues and
troubling developments that need to be discussed, said Assistant Secretary for
Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Michael Posner during a press conference to
introduce this year's report. One is the treatment of Buddhist religious
leaders in Tibet.
According to the Report, Chinese government officials often associated Buddhist
monasteries in Tibetan areas with pro-independence activism. The Chinese
Government has attempted to regulate the operations of major monasteries
through Democratic Management Committees composed of monastic leaders who
follow directions from local religious affairs bureaus.
"Government control over religious practice and the day-to-day management
of monasteries and other religious institutions continued to be extraordinarily
tight," states the Report. Furthermore, it notes that "'patriotic
education' campaigns in monasteries continued, requiring monks and nuns to sign
statements personally denouncing the Dalai Lama and to study communist
political texts and propaganda praising the Chinese government's management of
religious affairs." Monks and nuns that were found to be "politically
unqualified," or those who refused to denounce the Dalai Lama, faced
expulsion from their monasteries and nunneries. According to the report, some
monks fled their monasteries to avoid complying.
The United States continues to be concerned for the preservation of the Tibetan
people's unique religious, cultural, and linguistic heritage and protection of
their basic human rights. We encourage the government of China to strengthen
legal protections for religious freedom, and to and allow people of various
faiths to practice their beliefs according to their conscience.