No religious activities during summer break for Lhasa school children

19th July 2018

Families at a school in Lhasa have been forced to restrict their children’s activities during school holidays

Soon, school children in Tibet will break up and go on their summer holiday. However, a number of activities have been ruled out by the authorities.

The parents of students at Lhasa’s Higher Middle School Number 3 have been forced to sign a notification which aims to control their children’s actions during the break.

The notification, obtained by our research partner Tibet Watch, orders:

1. During the holiday, school children must focus on their studies, health and psychology.

2. During the holidays, school children must be restricted from engaging in religious activities. Moreover, their families must promote a healthy lifestyle and must take precautionary measures to prevent diseases. If any diseases are discovered they must be referred to a Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) government hospital.

3. School children must be prohibited from using phones and participating in illegal activities such as spreading rumours.

4. Families must forbid their children from visiting internet cafes and party halls as well as other activities which might harm their growth. They must also be prohibited from swimming during the summer holiday.

5. As the school will undertake repair works during the holiday all items including bedspreads and study materials must be taken home.

6. After signing this notice it will be kept by the school. If the guidelines are breached the school will not be responsible.

The second article in the order is part of a growing trend of the Chinese authorities tightening restrictions on religious activities. Even though the notification does not highlight specific religious activities, it is understood, given similar demands made in other cities and schools, that this refers to monastic and temple visits.

“Spreading rumours”, referred to in the third article of the notification, appears to refer to Article 105 of China’s Criminal Law which was amended in November 2015 to aid efforts to “crack down on people deliberately fabricating or spreading rumours that cause social chaos or disrupt normal life”.

Earlier this year, Free Tibet highlighted a similar case in Chamdo City, central Tibet, where local authorities had circulated an order prohibiting families from engaging in any of the religious activities. This five-point notification included prohibiting children from visiting monasteries during the holy month of Saga Dawa.

Update 23/07/2018: Chinese state-media outlet The Global Times have confirmed this story. In an interview Choephel, the head of the political education department at Lhasa Middle School, said: "We have sent notices to both students and their parents, and have had students sign an agreement that they will not take part in any form of religious activity during the summer vacation,"

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