The boy recognized by the Dalai Lama as the Panchen Lama, one of Tibet's most important religious leaders, marked his 18th birthday and coming of age April 25, 2007, after more than a decade in Chinese custody. The Panchen Lama's plight has come to symbolize the crisis facing the survival of Tibet's religious culture. This report documents a trend of tightening control over religious practice and scholarship in Tibet today.
Using information from official documents obtained from Tibet and interviews with reincarnate lamas, monks and nuns from Tibet, the report documents the following:
- Disturbing precedents on religious practice in the Tibet Autonomous Region
- A stepping up of the patriotic education campaign in religious institutions.
- A commitment by the government of the People’s Republic of China to strengthen the powers of the Chinese Communist Party’s Democratic Management Committees in religious institutions.
- A renewed determination by Chinese authorities to crack down on the influence of the Dalai Lama in Tibet.
- The severe undermining of traditional systems of monastic education.
- Appropriation by the atheistic Chinese state of authorities necessary for the transmission of teachings and the identification of reincarnate lamas.