Beyond Belief campaign wins support

Prayers in Kham for the Dalai Lama
Tibetans risk jail by praying for Dalai Lama's health, January 2016

22nd June 2016

Thousands sign petition; politicians and groups back campaign

Free Tibet's Beyond Belief campaign which was launched one month ago has already gathered more than 4,500 signatures to back our call for governments to reject a Chinese-appointed Dalai Lama. The amazing response from Free Tibet supporters has been echoed by MPs, religious groups and human rights organisations.

Controlling the Dalai Lama

Tibetans' loyalty to the current Dalai Lama and his global popularity are a threat to China's rule. For that reason, the Chinese government plans to appoint the next Dalai Lama when the current Dalai Lama dies. He has made clear that only he and Buddhist authorities can determine how his successor will be chosen. He has said that no Dalai Lama appointed for political purposes "including by those in the People's Republic of China" will be legitimate. China has described his position as "blasphemy".

Today, the current Dalai Lama is recognised as the leader of Tibetan Buddhism throughout the world. If China has its way, governments will have to choose whether to give the same recognition to the puppet Dalai Lama it appoints. Free Tibet is campaigning for governments to state clearly now that they will not do so. Making that statement will be a concrete sign of support for religious freedom, a hopeful message to Tibetans inside Tibet and a wake-up call to the Chinese leadership that its plan will fail.

Support for Beyond Belief campaign

Free Tibet is contacting politicians, religious leaders, human rights organisations and other influential figures to seek their support for the right of Tibetan Buddhists to choose their own leader. Already, many have shown their support, including representatives of Jewish and Buddhist groups and members of the UK parliament, including Kate Hoey MP, Chris Law MP and Lord Alton of Liverpool. Leaders of organisations campaigning for human rights in China, including Initiatives for China and China Aid have also backed our call. Freedom Declared, a UK parliamentary group promoting religious freedom, has also promoted our campaign.

In the next few months, we will be concentrating on building up support internationally so that we can then apply pressure to governments. Just this week, the UK minister responsible for China gave a non-committal answer to one of our supportive MPs who had submitted a written question on recognition of the Dalai Lama. The minister said that the British government has "no policy" on the matter. Our aim is to change that in the UK and secure commitments to reject a Chinese Dalai Lama from governments across the world.

Defending religious freedom

Tibetans' have been prevented from practising their religion freely for generations and China's attempt to exercise total control over Tibetan Buddhism shows no sign of diminishing. The US State Department's 2016 report on human rights describes the repression of religious freedom in Tibet as “severe”. It records “reports of extrajudicial killings, prolonged detention without trial, torture, and arrests of individuals due to their religious practices”. Free Tibet's Robed Resisters campaign highlights the cases of monks and nuns imprisoned for "political crimes" and Tibet Watch's recent report on Tibet's monasteries uncovered how they are subjected to intense scrutiny and interference from the Chinese state. Ordinary Tibetans face intimidation by security forces and are banned from keeping pictures or teachings of the Dalai Lama.

Take Action: Say no to China's plan for the Dalai Lama

Religion in Tibet is subject to relentless interference by the Chinese government. Tibetans will utterly reject any choice of Dalai Lama made for them by Beijing. Sign the petition to call on political and religious leaders to tell China that they will do the same and will never recognise any Dalai Lama it appoints.