China promotes legal training for Tibetan Monks

Monks playing a WeChat game to learn laws (via the TAR Justice Department).
29th October 2018

Teams have been sent to temples across Tibet to promote legal education in an effort to maintain stability

Since the 2008 uprisings in Tibet, China has increased restrictions on Tibetan Buddhism. Monasteries have been targeted with strict controls because authorities believe they remain sources of resistance to Chinese rule. Commonly used practices involve so-called "patriotic re-education" campaigns, aimed at transforming Tibetan national identity into Chinese identity and to eradicate Tibetan loyalty to the Dalai Lama. 

Recently, Chinese state-media outlet the Global Times has reported on a regional government scheme which is being rolled out in Tibet to give monks legal education and training. This has involved sending teams, consisting of monks and legal professionals who can speak both Chinese and Tibetan, into temples. The teams have used a variety of multimedia tools to “mobilize” monks and nuns including calligraphy contests, riddle guessing games, and collective morning reading sessions.

The regional government have also created a game, which runs on instant messaging app WeChat, that promotes legal knowledge. According to government reports over 1.8 million people have played the game. 

The overall program will “enhance regional stability and ethnic unity” according to Xiong Kunxin, a professor at Tibet University in Lhasa, who was quoted in the Global Times article.

The regional justice department, who are overseeing the implementation, claim that more than 24,000 people have participated in 923 lectures on the Constitution and other laws, with almost 70,000 brochures distributed in a campaign promoting legal awareness among monks in March.

 

As we have previously reported, Chinese authorities have been organising activities to promote the study of the Constitution of China - ever since it was updated last year to include "Xi Jinping's Thoughts on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era". In their series of lectures, China's religious and legal experts explain the newly amended Constitution, followed up with examinations to cement the idea that "national laws are above religious rule”.

According to Penpa Tsering, the Director of the Missionary Management Committee of Sera Monastery, these exams have been introduced to increase knowledge of the legal system and ensure monks obey rules and regulations. As such, legal training is utilised as a tool to combat 'separatism' and prevent future dissent or other related political activities. 

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has always made it clear that they view Tibetan Buddhism as being inextricably tied to Tibetan resistance of the occupation. This new scheme on legal education is just the latest of many CCP attempts to control and undermine Tibetan religious freedoms and monastic institutions. 

Information supplied by Tibet Watch.

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