Under Secretary Maria Otero Maria Otero today reported that the Chinese government has increased state infringement of freedom of religion especially in Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and nunneries.
In her testimony on Congressional-Executive Commission on China: 2011 Annual Report, Ms. Otero highlighted that political prisoners and human rights advocates cited in the 2011 annual report include rights defender Chen Guangcheng, lawyers Jiang Tianyong and Gao Zhisheng, Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo, journalist Memetjan Abdulla, bishop Su Zhimin, labor advocate Zhao Dongmin, Tibetan nomad Ronggyal Adrag, monk Choeying Khedrub, former monk Jigme Gyatso, and many others.
“Shining a light on human rights in China and particularly on conditions in Tibetan areas is always important, and certainly could not be more important than it is at the present time.” -Ms. Otero
She cited that over the last year, Tibetans who peacefully expressed disagreement with government policy faced increased risk of punishment, as the Chinese government continued to criminalize such expression under the guise of “safeguarding social stability.” She said government security and judicial officials detained and imprisoned Tibetan writers, artists, intellectuals, and cultural advocates who lamented or criticized government policies.
“In July, when I participated on the Commission’s panel, “The Dalai Lama: What He Means for Tibetans Today,” I noted my deep concern with the deteriorating human rights situation in Tibetan areas of China, and specifically with the abuse and forcible removal of monks from Kirti Monastery and the heavy security presence there. The recent self-immolations of young Tibetans, many of whom have been affiliated with Kirti Monastery, are desperate acts that reflect intense frustration with human rights conditions, including religious freedom, inside China.”- Ms. Otero
She stated that the Commission has thoroughly documented the policies that many believe have created escalating tensions and a growing sense of isolation and despair among Tibetans. The policies include dramatically expanded government controls on religious life and practice, ongoing “patriotic education” campaigns within monasteries that require monks to denounce the Dalai Lama, increasingly intensive surveillance, arbitrary detentions and disappearances of hundreds of monks, and restrictions on and imprisonment of some families and friends of self-immolators.
“The U.S. government repeatedly has urged the Chinese government to address its counterproductive policies in Tibetan areas that have created tensions and that threaten the unique religious, cultural and linguistic identity of the Tibetan people.” -Ms. Otero
She urged the Chinese government to allow access to Tibetan areas for journalists, diplomats and other observers.