Deputy Assistant Secretary Daniel Baer of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor today said religious restrictions in Tibetan areas have dramatically worsened in recent years.
According to Mr. Baer, discriminatory religious policies exacerbated tensions between Han Chinese and Tibetan Buddhists and triggered the 2008 riots that claimed the lives of Han and Tibetan civilians and police officers.
“Chinese authorities control Tibet’s monasteries, including the number of monks and nuns and interfere in the process of recognizing reincarnate lamas.”-Mr. Baer
Mr. Baer said monks and nuns are forced to attend regular political “patriotic education” sessions which sometimes include forced denunciations of the Dalai Lama. He stressed that reports state that as many as 300 monks were forcibly removed from Kirti again in April of this year, and paramilitary forces still have the monastery on lockdown.
“To date, we have no further information about the welfare and whereabouts of those monks that were removed.”-Mr. Baer
Mr. Baer said it’s his pleasure to be able to testify today on religious freedom, democracy and human rights as embodied in the Tibetan Policy Act of 2002.
“On behalf of Under Secretary of State Maria Otero, the Administration’s Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues, I can tell you that the Department of State is aggressively implementing the provisions of the Act.”-Mr. Baer
According to Mr. Baer, the Administration’s goals are twofold: to promote a substantive dialogue between the Chinese Government and the Dalai Lama or his representatives, and to help sustain Tibet’s unique religious, linguistic, and cultural heritages.
Mr. Baer reminded the Chinese government that the vast majority of Tibetans advocate non-violent solutions to Tibetan issues and genuine autonomy – not independence or sovereignty – in order to preserve Tibet’s unique culture, religion and its fragile environment. He said, regrettably, the Chinese government has not engaged in a substantive dialogue with the Tibetans since January 2010.
Mr. Baer further underscored that the U.S. Government believes that the Dalai Lama can be a constructive partner for China as it deals with the challenge of overcoming continuing tensions in Tibetan areas.
“The Dalai Lama’s views are widely reflected within Tibetan society, and command the respect of the vast majority of Tibetans. His consistent advocacy of non-violence is an important factor in reaching an eventual lasting solution.”-Mr.-Baer
Mr. Baer further said China’s engagement with the Dalai Lama or his representatives to resolve problems facing Tibetans is in the interests of the Chinese government and the Tibetan people. He elaborated that the United States believes failure to address the problems could lead to greater tensions inside China and could be an impediment to China’s social and economic development.