DHARAMSALA, July 29: The US State Department on July 28 said China continues to assert control over religious rights of the Tibetan people.
“They (Chinese authorities) arrest Tibetan Buddhists simply for possessing the Dalai Lama’s photograph,” US Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters after releasing the 2013 Report on International Religious Freedom.
According to the State Department, the 2013 International Religious Freedom Report documents how, where and when the universal right to religious freedom was violated or protected in nearly 200 countries around the world, and it reflects the commitment of the United States to advancing religious freedom for every person.
“Religious freedom is fundamental because it protects our ability to hold and profess and change our most deeply held and personal convictions. Being deeply held and deeply personal, religious beliefs are often strongly contested. But the most significant abuses of religious freedom – those involving large-scale discrimination, persecution, and killing – rarely arise naturally from religious differences among ordinary people. There is usually the additional factor of cynical calculation by political forces seeking to maintain power or exploit religious differences for political ends,” said Tom Malinowski, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor who addressed the press briefing after Secretary Kerry left the special briefing for an urgent phone call.
“In Tibet, authorities continue to assert control over Tibetan Buddhist religious practices,” he added.
The report noted that the Chinese government’s ‘respect for and protection of the right to religious freedom fell well short of its international human rights commitments’.
Chinese police detained students, monks, laypersons, and others in many Tibetan areas who called for basic rights, including respect for freedom of religion or expressed support for their spiritual leader, His Holiness the Dalai Lama according to the US State Department’s report.
The report also noted that China prosecuted family members and individuals associated with Tibetan self-immolators on charges of ‘intentional homicide’.
“Authorities often justified official interference with Tibetan Buddhist monasteries by associating them with separatism and pro-independence activism,” the report said.