Het toenemend aantal toeristen in Tibet levert de lokale bevolking nauwelijks winst op. Integendeel. Cultuur en eigenheid van het land en bevolking worden ernstig aangetast. Het Chinese overheidsbeleid trachten de economische groei van Tibet te versnellen. Dat tast echte het voortbestaan van de unieke Tibetaanse cultuur en identiteit aan. Een van de pijlers van die economische ontwikkeling is het toerisme.
Chinees toerisme Tibet, poseren voor cameraTerwijl de autoriteiten trots exponentiële groeicijfers verkondigen en Tibet in China aanprijzen als een ‘exotische bestemming met een mysterieuze cultuur in een spectaculair landschap’, worden de Tibetanen buitengesloten en wordt de controle over het Tibetaans boeddhisme in Tibet verder aangescherpt. China gebruikte de groeiende toeristenindustrie als een van de dekmantels voor toenemende repressie en marginalisering van de Tibetanen.
De opening van de spoorlijn naar Lhasa in 2006 zorgde voor een explosieve toename van het aantal Chinese migranten naar Tibet. In 2007 verder boden het aantal toeristen naar 4 miljoen. De massale protesten in 2008 riepen het toerisme naar de hoofdstad Lhasa tijdelijk een halt toe en het aantal liep met bijna de helft terug. Sindsdien vindt er met enorme overheidsuitgaven en campagnes weer een opleving plaats. Volgens het toerismebureau van de Tibetaanse autonome regio (TAR) was het aantal toeristen in 2010 6,9 miljoen en worden er in 2012 zelfs 10 miljoen verwacht. Nieuwe grote infrastructuurprojecten worden gerealiseerd om de groeiende stroom Chinese toeristen – en migranten – aan te voeren. Lhasa is via de spoorlijn met al zeven grote Chinese steden verbonden en er zijn vijf commerciële vliegvelden in Tibet.
Chinees toerisme Tibet, toeristenDe Chinese regering heeft omvangrijke plannen om de Tibetaanse cultuur en natuur te vercommercialiseren. Daar vallen pelgrims bestemmingen zoals de heilige berg Kailash en meren als Yamdrok Tso onder. In juli werd de bouw van een groot cultuurproject aangekondigd. De autoriteiten investeren drie miljard euro in het pretpark over de Tibetaanse cultuur in de buurt van Lhasa. Xinhua citeerde de onderburgemeester van Lhasa: ‘Het levend museumproject is opgezet om de toeristische naam van Tibet te verbeteren en het moet een mijlpaal zijn in de cultuurindustrie.’
Volgens het staatspersbureau moet het project binnen drie à vijf jaar voltooid zijn. Het thema is de Chinese prinses Wencheng, die in de zevende eeuw de Tibetaanse koning Songsten Gampo duwde. China baseert zijn aanspraken op Tibet op die verbintenis. Door een karikatuur van de Tibetaanse historie en cultuur te maken, probeert China de geschiedenis van Tibet te herschrijven en de Tibetaanse cultuur en identiteit te vervangen door een communistische versie.
Het Tibetaans boeddhisme is voor China een primair doelwit voor de commercialisering van de Tibetaanse cultuur. Waar eens honderden monniken op binnenplaatsen van kloosters debatteerden, staan nu souvenirkramen en kunnen toeristen in pseudo traditionele Tibetaanse dracht voor camera’s poseren. Even oude kloosters, zoals Samye en Tashilhunpo, hoe zijn van een boeddhistische studiecentra omgevormd tot commerciële ondernemingen.
Chinees toerisme in Tibet, LhasaHet aantal monniken en nonnen is drastisch teruggebracht en de traditionele leer wordt aangevuld met de communistische leer en propaganda. Chinezen verkleed als monniken brengen voor exorbitante prijzen Tibetaanse wierook, gebedsvlaggen en andere boeddhistische souvenirs aan de man. De bekende Tibetaanse schrijfster Woeser schreef in een blog dat buitenstaanders hierdoor een verkeerd beeld krijgen van het Tibetaans boeddhisme. ‘Nep boeddhisme heeft de kloosters geïnfiltreerd.’
Toerisme vormt voor de Chinese regering een belangrijke inkomstenbron. In de Tibetaanse autonome regio (TAR) waren de inkomsten uit toerisme in 2007 0.4 miljard euro. Naar verwachting is dat in 2012 zelfs € 1,23 miljard. Deze inkomsten zouden kunnen bijdragen aan opleidingen en werkgelegenheid voor Tibetanen. In de praktijk gebeurt dat niet en worden zij verder gemarginaliseerd. Zo worden de Tibetaanse gidsen vervangen door Chinese gidsen. Deze schotelen een Chinese versie van de cultuur voor, zodat dit Tibetanen niet langer rentmeesters zijn van hun eigen unieke cultuur. Ook taxichauffeurs en eigenaren van restaurants en hotels zijn vooral Chinese migranten.
Analisten melden dat een groot deel van de inkomsten uit toerisme de regio verlaat. De econoom Andrew Fischer, die gespecialiseerd is in China en Tibet, zei: “de meeste toeristen die de TAR bezoeken zijn Chinezen en zij verblijven meestal in Chinese hotels aan de westkant van Lhasa dicht bij een overvloedig aanbod van Chinese restaurants en entertainmentcentra. Het is waarschijnlijk dat bijna al deze inkomsten uit toerisme, die via dergelijke locaties binnenkomen, bijna net zo snel uit de provincie wegvloeien als ze binnenkomen.”
Chinees toerisme Tibet, treinverbindingenChinees toerisme Tibet, westerlingenToeristen uit het Westen en uit andere Aziatische landen dragen nauwelijks bij aan de groei en ze maken nog geen 10% uit van het totale aantal toeristen dat Tibet bezoekt. De regels om de TAR binnen te komen, worden steeds meer aangescherpt via ingewikkelde aanvraagprocedures. Toeristen mogen uitsluitend begeleid worden door gidsen die door de autoriteiten geautoriseerd zijn. Die beweren dat deze beperkingen slechts bedoeld zijn om buitenlandse toeristen te beschermen tegen mogelijke gevallen van “onrust”.
De achterliggende oorzaak is dat China weet dat in het verleden toeristen ooggetuige waren van mensenrechtenschendingen in Tibet en hierover berichtten. Regelmatig worden Tibetaanse gebieden afgesloten voor buitenlandse toeristen, zoals in de voor de Chinezen gevoelige maand maart, als de Tibetanen wereldwijd de volksopstand in Lhasa van 1959 herdenken en rondom andere politiek gevoelige perioden. Toch blijft het belangrijk dat toeristen Tibet bezoeken. Dan ziet de wereld, zoals ook de Dalai Lama stelt, met eigen ogen hoe China de mensenrechten in Tibet schendt.
Bron International Campaign for Tibet.
By Craig Lewis Buddhistdoor Global | The authorities in China’s southwestern Sichuan Province are reportedly planning a major reduction of the burgeoning monastic population at the famed Larung Gar Buddhist Academy in the Larung Valley near the town of Sertar, Garze Prefecture. The reported decision follows similar moves in 2001, when state authorities organized a mass eviction of residents from the institute, and late last year, when further evictions were accompanied by an order to reduce admissions to curb the rapid growth of the monastic population.
Situated in the traditional Tibetan region of Kham, Larung Gar Buddhist Academy was founded in 1980 by the highly respected teacher Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok (1933–2004), a lama of the Nyingma tradition, one of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism. With some estimates putting the population at as many as 40,000 monks and nuns, the institute is widely considered to be the largest center of Buddhist learning in the world.
“Last year, 600 members of this center were ordered to leave, and they returned to their hometowns. About 400 members aged 60 and older were also asked to leave, and they left as well,” an anonymous source told Radio Free Asia, a private, non-profit international broadcaster created by the US government. “This year, the authorities are talking about 1,200 members who will have to leave, and it is said that China has now issued a document saying that only 5,000 monks and nuns will be allowed to remain [at Larung Gar].”
Government officials were marking houses that obstructed the passage of firefighting vehicles or the construction of roads, according to the source, who added that dwellings targeted for demolition would be torn down by force if necessary. “About 60 to 70 per cent of the houses of monks and nuns are being marked for demolition,” the source said, noting that the order to reduce the number of residents at Larung Gar did not originate at the county level, “but comes from higher authorities,” with China’s president Xi Jinping taking a personal interest in the matter. (Radio Free Asia)
In 2001, government authorities had become unsettled by the rapid population growth at the institute. Alarmed by what they termed “splittist” activities, and particularly unnerved by its growing popularity among ordinary Han Chinese—at the time, Han Chinese at the academy numbered more than 1,000—the authorities sent in thousands of security personnel and laborers, who evicted all but 1,400 of the monastery’s 9,000 inhabitants and razed 2,400 dwellings. Many of the nuns and monks turned out from Larung Gar made their way southwest to the more remote Yarchen Gar monastic community, still largely hidden from the outside world by its geographical remoteness and political restrictions put in place by the government. Because of these restrictions, most of the monks and nuns at Yarchen Gar are not officially recognized and live in fear of eviction.
The site of the Larung Gar Buddhist Academy was chosen by Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok because of its historical connection to the Vajrayana tradition. It is said that His Holiness the first Dudjom Rinpoche, Dudjom Lingpa (1835–1904), stayed here with his 13 disciples. The institute was conceived as an independent center of study that would help revitalize the Dharma and revive the study and practice of Tibetan Buddhism following the devastating impact of China’s Cultural Revolution (1966–76), during which Tibetan Buddhism was suppressed and thousands of monasteries were destroyed. While the academy initially had fewer than 100 students, the monastic population grew rapidly in the years that followed.
The institute has played a key role in revitalizing the teachings of Tibetan Buddhism since China eased restrictions on religious practice in 1980, and has become renowned for the quality of both its religious and secular education. English, Chinese, and Tibetan languages and modern computer studies are taught alongside a traditional non-sectarian Buddhist curriculum. About 500 khenpos—holders of doctoral degrees in divinity—have studied at Larung Gar Buddhist Academy.
China’s new directive on controversial Shugden spirit in Tibet in bid to further discredit Dalai Lama
ON APRIL 7, 2015
- The Chinese government has issued a new directive on propitiation of a controversial Tibetan Buddhist spirit in a bid to further discredit the Dalai Lama.
- The document, couched as protecting freedom of religion of the Tibetans under China’s Communist Party control, nonetheless uses this pretext to project the Dalai Lama as the wrongdoer. This demonstrates that the Chinese authorities are aligned with protestors in the West who propitiate Shugden and have been denigrating the Dalai Lama when he travels to the U.S. and Europe.
- Describing the Shugden issue as “an important front in our struggle with the Dalai Clique,” the document, obtained by ICT, could be the first such set of overt official guidelines from inside Tibet.
- The Dalai Lama has repudiated the propitiation of Shugden (also known as “Dolgyal”) for its sectarianism, among other reasons.
- The Chinese authorities for several years have been promoting the propitiation of Shugden inside Tibet as a part of their campaign to undermine the Dalai Lama.
- Following the official advisory, which was circulated last year but has only just reached ICT, two Tibetans in the Tibet Autonomous Region have been imprisoned – one for ten years – for allegedly discouraging propitiation of the Shugden ‘protector’ spirit in Tibet.
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A copy of the document, entitled “Some opinions on dealing correctly with the ‘Gyalchen Shugden’ issue” and issued by the General Office of the Communist Party Committee of the Tibet Autonomous Region, is translated below from Tibetan into English. It was released on February 20, 2014, but has only just reached ICT due to restrictions on information and the dangers of sending such documents outside Tibet. The document states that the issue “should be given a high degree of importance, and clearly recognized as a deceitful ploy by the 14th Dalai’s Clique to split the country.” This characterization of the issue indicates that Tibetans who encourage others not to propitiate the spirit in accordance with the Dalai Lama’s advice could face criminal charges and imprisonment. The Dalai Lama, who himself had propitiated Shugden at one time, has said that after thorough investigation there were “profound historical, social and religious problems associated with it.”
In December 2014, a Tibetan man from Chamdo (Chinese: Changdu) named Uyak Tulku Lobsang Tenzin was sentenced to ten years in prison, because he urged residents of his home town to follow the Dalai Lama by not participating in Shugden propitiation, according to Radio Free Asia Tibetan service. In early June 2014, four months after the document on Shugden was issued, a 77-year old Tibetan man, Jamyang Tsering, also from Chamdo (Chinese: Changdu) was imprisoned after encouraging a group of students to follow the guidance of the Dalai Lama and to always “hold to their pride in being Tibetan. […] He had also advised as many people as possible in local gatherings not to worship Shugden.” According to the same source, Jamyang Tsering, who suffers from abdominal disorders, diabetes, and high blood pressure, among other ailments, was sentenced to a year and a half in prison.
The ‘Opinions’ document indicates that the Chinese authorities are politicizing an internal Buddhist matter as a divisive weapon in a systematic ideological campaign against the Dalai Lama that attempts to sever connections between Tibetans in exile and those inside Tibet. It can also be viewed as a means of diverting attention from oppressive Communist Party policies against religion by attempting to drive a wedge among Tibetans. In the document, the Party Committee does not only blame the Dalai Lama for “instigating the self-immolations” that have swept Tibet since 2009, but it also blames the “Dalai Clique” for using “the Gyalchen Shugden issue to stir up divisions and instability in Tibet.”
Followers of Shugden – led by Westerners from the “New Kadampa Tradition” (“NKT”) now operating as the International Shugden Community – have organized strident demonstrations against the Dalai Lama in global capitals where he travels.
Matteo Mecacci, President of the International Campaign for Tibet, said: “This document on Shugden opens up a new front on the cultural battleground targeting Tibetans for their loyalty to the Dalai Lama, in a political environment that is already deeply oppressive. It also provides confirmation that the Shugden supporters in the West are aligned with the Chinese Communist government’s agenda on Tibet, which threatens the very survival of Tibetan religion and cultural identity.”
Some counties in the Tibet Autonomous Region have followed the guidelines in imposing similar regulations. A harsh new set of regulations in Driru (Chinese: Biru), Nagchu (Chinese: Naqu) prefecture included one provision that stated there will be punishments for “those who stir conflicts among monastics and lay believers over belief in […] Shugden out of malevolence.” The same ban has been imposed in Chamdo (Chinese: Changdu), an area that has been subject to a dramatic tightening of security and on the “frontline’ of the ‘patriotic education’ campaign as Tibetans continue to resist repressive measures imposed after protests that began in March 2008.
Inside the PRC, officials have long used Shugden propitiation to create divisions between Tibetans, often encouraging Tibetans to propitiate Shugden and offering financial inducements to do so, as part of their objective of undermining the Dalai Lama. Shugden statues have been installed in monasteries in different parts of Tibet, often against the will of resident monks.
In some cases, even small monasteries connected to Shugden have had large amounts of funding from the government compared to much larger monasteries with a higher population of monks where Shugden is not propitiated. In 2008, thousands of yuan were allocated to a relatively small monastery in Amdo which propitiates Shugden. In contrast, the much larger monastery across the river in Takstang Lhamo had its school closed down and struggled for funding after monks participated in a peaceful demonstration, asserting their Tibetan identity.
In one small monastery in Chamdo, the entire population of 21 monks was forced out when they refused to install a statue of Dorje Shugden. According to Tibetan sources, the authorities then appointed eight other monks and the statue was installed. Last year, also in Chamdo, a young Tibetan stabbed himself to death when police attempted to detain him over the dismantling of a Shugden statue six years ago, according to a report by Radio Free Asia.
Similar incidents of resistance to the imposition of Shugden statues have been reported across Tibet. A Tibetan prominent in the Western Shugden movement, Gangchen Lama, urged monks to be ‘patriotic’ and to show loyalty to the PRC, on a visit to Gangchen monastery in Shigatse, the Tibet Autonomous Region. Subsequently, local government officials arrived at the monastery to instruct monks to propitiate Shugden and to respect Gangchen; monks who did not were threatened with arrest, detention and imprisonment.
Gangchen Lama is a frequent and regular visitor to China and Tibet who has applauded the Chinese authorities for improving conditions in Tibet and keeping Tibetan culture and spirituality alive. The “Dolgyal Shugden Research Society” states that: “Gangchen has proven a useful tool for the Chinese in their attempts to reshape Tibetan religion into what they consider a more ‘culturally acceptable’ form: on meeting the Chinese Panchen Zuma or ‘False Panchen’ Lama, whose first official photos on his investiture coincidentally featured him seated before a somewhat overbearing image of Dorje Shugden, Gangchen stated: ‘It was my long-cherished dream to meet his [the Tenth’s] incarnation. Now, my dream has come true, and I was glad to see that the 11th Panchen Erdeni is wise and benevolent.’”
The new opinion on Shugden is in the context of a harsh political climate in the Tibet Autonomous Region and Tibetan areas. Campaigns directed against the Dalai Lama’s influence, Tibetan culture and religion, mean that in recent years almost any expression of Tibetan identity not directly sanctioned by the state can be branded as ‘separatist’, and penalized by a prison sentence, or worse. Communist Party officials in Tibet Autonomous Region have been punished for taking part in ‘separatist’ activities linked to the Dalai Lama, following scrutiny by a disciplinary official work team linked to Xi Jinping’s politicized drive against corruption. The developments follow stern warnings of “punishment” for Tibetans “who have fantasies about the 14th Dalai Clique,” effectively acknowledging the Chinese authorities’ failure to eradicate loyalty to the religious leader in exile, even among Party members.
 His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Advice Concerning Dolgyal (Shugden) http://www.dalailama.com/messages/dolgyal-shugden/his-holiness-advice
 Radio Free Asia cited a Tibetan source saying that Tenzin was detained “sometime in June ” in Lhasa, where he had retired after working as a driver and tour guide. The same source said: “At some point, he returned to Dzogang county in Chamdo and began to advise the lay public and the monastic community to obey the instructions of the Dalai Lama and abandon worshipping Shugden, as this would be in the best interest both of individuals and the community.” Radio Free Asia report, ‘Another Tibetan is Jailed For Discouraging Worship of a Controversial Deity’, December 17, 2014
 Radio Free Asia report, ‘Elderly Tibetan is Jailed For Discouraging Worship of Controversial Deity’, December 12, 2014. The same report quoted a Tibetan source saying that Tsering suffers from abdominal disorders, diabetes, and high blood pressure, among other ailments, and that: “He himself says he has done nothing wrong and has no regrets. His only concern is for his wife, who is 86 and was left behind in [the regional capital] Lhasa after he was detained.”
 More than 130 Tibetans have set fire to themselves in one of the biggest waves of self-immolation as political protest worldwide. ICT factsheet: http://www.savetibet.org/resources/fact-sheets/self-immolations-by-tibetans/
 ICT statement on Shugden demonstrators: http://www.savetibet.org/the-international-campaign-for-tibets-statement-on-the-shugden-demonstrators/ The New Kadampa Tradition currently operates as the International Shugden Community. Even former members of the community have condemned the demonstrators. The following statement was released by ex-practitioners, who describe themselves as ‘survivors’ of what is recognized as a cult: “We, the undersigned, as former members of the New Kadampa Tradition (NKT), and ex-practitioners of Dorje Shugden, are appalled and saddened that those who were once our NKT sangha now demonstrate against and defame His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Inaccuracies and distortions of what we know to be the truth have been published as fact. The New Kadampa Tradition currently operates as the ‘International Shugden Community’ (ISC). Many allegations and insults are made against His Holiness which are completely unwarranted. At demonstrations and on numerous web sites and Facebook pages, the NKT/ISC viciously attacks the reputation of His Holiness. We have tried to address inaccuracies with the group, but without success. We believe it is time to speak out with one voice.” The full statement is published at: http://buddhism-controversy-blog.com/2014/09/26/revised-declaration-from-new-kadampa-survivors-concerning-the-demonstrations-against-his-holiness-the-dalai-lama/, posted on September 26, 2014
 Among other inaccurate claims made by Western Shugden groups is the accusation that the Dalai Lama has ‘banned’ Shugden propitiation. As Robert Thurman writes: “The worship of their chosen deity was not ‘banned’ by the Dalai Lama, since he has no authority to ‘ban’ what Tibetan Buddhists practice. ‘Banning’ and ‘excommunicating’ are not Tibetan Buddhist procedures. Although they are Buddhists who should focus on emulating the Buddha, members of the cult are free to worship their chosen “protector deity,” whom they call Dorje Shugden, as much as they like.” (‘The Dalai Lama and the Cult of Dolgyal Shugden’, by Robert Thurman, http://tibet.net/dolgyal-shugden/the-dalai-lama-and-the-cult-of-dolgyal-shugden/).
 ICT report, November 20, 2014, http://www.savetibet.org/harsh-new-rectification-drive-in-driru-nuns-expelled-and-warning-of-destruction-of-monasteries-and-mani-walls/
 Chamdo is treated by the authorities as “a strategic bridge between the Tibet Autonomous Region and the neighboring provinces of Sichuan, Yunnan and Qinghai.” (Tibet Daily, April 17, 2009). ICT report, December 2, 2009, http://www.savetibet.org/determination-to-resist-repression-continues-in-combat-ready-chamdo-frontline-of-patriotic-education/
 Further information on Shugden is available at the Dalai Lama’s website (www.dalailama.com), the Central Tibetan Administration (www.tibet.net), and the Tibet Houses (www.dalailamaprotesters.info/)
 According to Tibetan sources known to ICT, and a French newspaper article ‘Chronicle of oppression in a village in Amdo’, April 8, 2008, http://tempsreel.nouvelobs.com/monde/20080404.OBS8253/chronique-de-la-repression-dans-un-village-d-amdo.html (in French).
 Tibetan Review, January 23, 2008, http://www.tibetanreview.net/new-shugden-image-reigns-as-ancient-statues-stolen-from-monastery/. The Pashoe Naira monastery in Pashoe (Chinese: Basu) County of Chamdo Prefecture, Tibet Autonomous Region, located about 300 kms (186 miles) from the prefectural capital, had 21 monks till about 1998, when authorities forced them out after they refused to install the statue. The monastery had no previously history of worshipping Shugden, the report added.
 Radio Free Asia report, December 12, 2014, http://www.rfa.org/english/news/tibet/worship-12122014152106.html
 The reference to ‘patriotic’ means that Chinese Communist Party requires monks and nuns to be loyal to the Party state first; political allegiance is an official prerequisite for registration at monastic institution and to be considered by the state as a ‘religious’ person. This is an inversion of the priorities of a Buddhist practitioner.
 Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (June 2000) Human Rights Update and Archives ‘Forceful Evacuation in Gangchen Monastery’ http://www.tchrd.org/publications. The incident is cited in ‘Dolgyal Shugden: A History: The Real Story behind the Shugden Cult’s Campaign against the Dalai Lama’ by the Dolgyal Shugden Research Society, published by Tibet House, New York, US, 2014, distributed by Hay House, http://www.amazon.com/Dolgyal-Shugden-The-Research-Society-ebook/dp/B00KSP5K20/. The same book also reports that similarly, in the autumn of 2005, the monastery of Labrang in Gansu province received an unsolicited proposal from Gangchen for him to fund the construction of a new dormitory for its monks. The offer was accompanied by generous personal donations to the monks themselves. However, the proposal was conditional: in order for it to happen, the monastery would have to agree to the construction of a Shugden shrine within the monastery. Despite pressure from local government officials charged with ‘supervising religious affairs’, the offer was ultimately refused. (TibetInfoNet (31st May 2006) New details on the Ganden Incident http://www.tibetinfonet.net/content/update/20)
 ‘False Panchen’ is the term the majority of Tibetan exiles use to refer to the Chinese candidate, who was recognised by the government after the arrest of the then five year old child the Dalai Lama had recognised in 1995. Gedhun Chokyi Nyima’s whereabouts is still not known, 20 years later, despite requests from numerous governments and official representatives to meet him in order to be assured of his welfare.
 From the book ‘Dolgyal Shugden: A History: The Real Story behind the Shugden Cult’s Campaign against the Dalai Lama’ by the Dolgyal Shugden Research Society, published by Tibet House, New York, US, 2014, distributed by Hay House, citing Z Yangzoin (July 2005) Lama Gangchen and his Self Healing Therapy, China Tibet Magazine, http://www.tibetinfor.com/english/zt/people/..%5Cpeople/200402004511164405.htm
 ICT report, January 28, 2015, http://www.savetibet.org/communist-party-officials-punished-for-supporting-dalai-lama/