08/04/2007, 00.00
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The Party to approve Buddha reincarnations

The government continues to interfere in religious affairs, mortgaging the future of the Dalai Lama. In Sichuan 200 Tibetans demand the release of a nomadic pastor who had asked for independence for Tibet.

Beijing (AsiaNews) – From September 1st all reincarnation of Buddha, in order to be considered real, will have to have Chinese government approval.  The State Administration of Religious Affairs said “living Buddhas” would be “illegal” or “invalid” if they did not obtain recognition from the government and the religious affairs department. The edict states that all reincarnations will have to seek approval from provincial or national offices, in accordance with “their fame or influence”.  The new rule, published on the government website, is needed to “maintain order and create a harmonious society in Tibet”.

“Living Buddhas” area typical figures in Buddhism, who instead of entering into Nirvana ( Buddhism’s “heaven”), are reincarnated to help humanity discover the path of Buddha.  In Tibetan Buddhism, these reincarnations are very important because they guarantee the continuity of the Dalai Lama’s governance, (currently in his 14 reincarnation) as well as that of the Panchen Lama (in his 11th reincarnation).

It was indeed the 11th reincarnation of the Panchen Lama that provoked the current conflict between the atheist state and Buddhist religion.  In 1995 the Dalai Lama anointed a six-year-old boy,  Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, Panchen Lama. But in opposition to the Dalai Lama’s influence, China kidnapped the boy and his family and chose – by a method which Beijing maintains more practical and true – another boy, Gyaincain Norbu.  Norbu has since become a propagandist of the Chinese governments’ religious policies in Tibet, while Nyima has been held captive for over 12 years.

The new rule will be effective as of September 1st and will apply to living Buddhas of intermediate value; that is at a monastery or city level. But it is clear that it constitutes a stark precedent to place the choice of the Dalai Lama, currently in exile in India, into Beijing’s hands.

Since 1950 Tibet has suffered under Chinese military occupation, which has met with the Tibetan populations resistance, who have remained faithful to their political and religious leader.

Just a few days ago, on August 1st during celebrations marking the 80th Founding Anniversary of the People's Liberation Army, in Lithang, Sichuan, Ronggay A'drak,  a 52-year-old Tibetan nomad from Youru Village, Lithang County, Kardze Province, succeeded in making his way onto the stage and shouting slogans for Tibetan independence and return of the Dalai Lama. Police immobilized and arrested him, but over 200 Tibetans held a sit- in in front of the prison.  According to the Chinese agency Xinhua, the situation was calmed and the crowds dispersed.  According to Radio Free Asia the 200 were also arrested.

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