China bans Tibetan children from religious activities during winter break yet again

The Directive issued by the Lhasa Chengguan Haicheng Elementary School to the parents of their school children. 

DHARAMSALA, 7 Jan: Chinese authorities have issued a stern directive to the parents of Tibetan children at a school in Lhasa, the Tibetan Capital forcing them to ban their children from taking part in religious activities over the winter holidays.

“Students are not allowed to participate in any form of religious activity during the break, and in principle, long-distance travel with students is not allowed. In the event of an accident, all consequences are the responsibility of the parents,” read an extract from the directive issued to the parents on what parents can and can not engage their children during the winter break translated from Chinese by the Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet(ICT).

The Directive was reportedly issued by the Lhasa Chengguan Haicheng Elementary School to the parents of their school children on 31 Dec 2019.

ICT has condemned China’s ban on school Children from engaging in religious activities and stated, “a state simply cannot ban children from religious activities.”

“By banning schoolchildren from religious activities, Chinese authorities are infringing upon basic principles of freedom of religion, as set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights–which China agreed to—and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which China ratified in 1992,” it added.

Though China maintains that Tibetans in Tibet enjoy their freedom of religion, but the stark reality is that Religion in Tibet is regulated by the laws of the People’s Republic of China, an atheist state.

Besides ordering Tibetan pilgrims from inside Tibet who have reached Nepal and India to return immediately or face severe punishment time and again and confiscating passports of those who attended the pilgrim to Gaya for the Kalachakra initiation, the Chinese communist authorities in Tibet have issued similar edicts previously during the summer and winter vacations in 2018 and 2019 as well.

While such moves from China continues to draw heavy criticism from activists and rights groups as the reflection of  CHina’s increasingly harsh restrictions on the Buddhist culture aimed largely at reducing the influence of exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Beijing justifies the ban on Children in traditionally Buddhist Tibet as in accordance with school regulations and by stating that the education law separates education from religious influences.

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) listed China as the world’s worst persecutor of religious faiths in its 2019 annual report.

“Religious freedom only exists in name but not in reality in China. China has sinicized and securitized religions for a political agenda. The worst cases are in Tibet and the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region,” USCIRF Chair Dr Tenzin Dorjee has said in the report.

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