Asia-Pacific, Headlines

CHINA-TIBET: Dalai Lama Photos Banned From Monasteries, Hotels

Yojana Sharma

HONG KONG, Apr 30 1996 (IPS) - Monasteries in Tibet have been barred from displaying photographs of exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, in what Tibetan watchers and media say is an escalating campaign by the Chinese authorities to weaken his support base.

Tourists who were in Tibet last week also say that plainclothes policemen visited hotels and restaurants in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa and also ordered hotels and restaurants not to display any of photographs of the exiled leader.

“They came into where we were staying and the staff had to remove all photos of the Dalai Lama,” said one tourist who saw two policemen giving orders. “Local people were saying ‘they cannot remove him from our heart’, and things like that,” said the tourist who asked not to be named.

Severd Tibet Information Network (TIN), confirming reports of the police actions, however said a picture of the Dalai Lama still remains in the Potala Place, former home of the spiritual leader.

Pictures also remain in t the Dalai Lama pictures have been replaced by photographs of the 10th Panchen Lama who died in Beijing in 1989 and was widely seen as a Chinese puppet although a covert nationalist.

There are accounts of sthe new decree, tourists said.

And according to TIN reports, in Gyu-Me tantCollege in Lhasa, monks have removed a famous picture of the Dalai Lama from one of their shrines but have refused to take dowofficial delegation told the abbot of Ramoche Monastery in Lhasa to remove all Dalai La but monks refused to cooperate and threatened to igious ceremonies if the order was carried out.

Government officials were already banned, sincrding to TIN, the police visits to Lhasa hotels came two weeks after a ban on public displays of photographs of the Dalai Lama was announced on the front page of the Apr 5 edition of the official “Tibet Daily”.

“The hanging of the Dalai’s portrait in templesing “reactionary propaganda materials and stepping up anti-infiltrative work in religious activities centres. That circular however only referred to religious institutions.

“It is unclear why police are enforcing the nonasteries or why the ban is not being implemented gradually as stated in the

“Usually the strategy is different: they (the Chinese authorities) impose a new regulation in one placens,” said one Tibetan in Lhasa quoted by TIN. “When it is ‘okay’, they extend little by little. Now it looks as if they do not care about the reactions from inside or outside.”

Barnett notes: “The publication of such a bsuggests increasing confidence amongst the (Chinese) leadership in the region.”n is part of an escalating effort to remove the Dalai Lama from his dominant position in Tibetan Buddhism.

“The Dalai is no longeraid.

Such inflammatory statements, coupled with taken so far by the authorities in a year-long campaign ag The rift between Beijing and the Dalai Lama has ning last November with China’s selection of a Tibetan boy as the new Panchen Lama — the second holiest monk in Tibetan Buddhism.

In a rarelye reincarnation of the second highest spiritual leader in the Himalayan kingdom.

He succeeded the 10th Panchen Lama, who until 1959 uprising and the flight of the Dalai Lama to India.

Last May, the Dalai Lama, who traditionally resenior clerics, had selected another boy — the six- year-old son of a sheep herder — as the Panchen jected the choice and denounced the Dalai Lama for not following proper rituals and encouraging Tibet’s simmering separatist movement.

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