- BEIJING (Agence France Presse) - China has launched a three-year propaganda
campaign aimed at stamping out religion in Tibet and ending support for
the Dalai Lama (pictured) living in exile, the Tibet Information Network
(TIN) said Saturday.
- The campaign, launched in Lhasa on Jan.
8 and broadcast on Tibet Television on Jan. 10, promotes atheism as the
only way to economic development and stability.
- "It is an important measure to strengthen
the struggle against separatists, to resolutely resist the Dalai clique's
reactionary infiltration and to help peasants and herdsmen free themselves
from the negative influence of religion," TIN quoted Tibet television
- Chinese troops "liberated"
Tibet in 1951, but are still fighting a battle to control the hearts and
minds of many Tibetans who remain loyal to their spiritual leader, the
Dalai Lama, despite lengthy campaigns to discredit him.
- "The campaign to encourage the spread
of atheism is further evidence of the authorities' concerns over the private
loyalties of Tibetan cadres and their failure to eradicate Tibetans' support
for the Dalai Lama," TIN said in a statement received here.
- "It represents a strengthening of
the anti-Dalai Lama campaign in Tibet and is aimed not only at Tibetan
cadres but also at ordinary members of society," it added.
- The new campaign was not reported in
Tibetan newspapers available in Beijing and officials in the mountainous
region were unavailable for comment.
- However, a speech by Raidi, deputy party
secretary in Tibet on Nov. 15 also called for new efforts to reduce religion
- "As communists, we cannot hold that
all is well because we merely announce that we are atheists. Instead we
need to make bold propaganda about Marxist atheism, insisting on indoctrinating
the peasant and herdsman masses on the Marxist stand on religion,"
he was quoted as saying by TIN.
- In early January, the Tibetan Center
for Human Rights and Democracy documented a long list of rights abuses
in the Himalayan region that threaten "both the cultural and physical
survival of the Tibetan people."
- "The human rights situation in Tibet
has continued to deteriorate over the last three years," said Lobsang
Nyandak, executive director of the monitoring group based in the northern
Indian city of Dharamsala, which is the home in exile of the Dalai Lama.
- "Every year, political prisoners
are being tortured and killed by the Chinese authorities and the world
must help us to stop these inhuman acts," Nyandak said.
- The center's annual report put the number
of political prisoners in Tibet at 1,083 as of December 1998, including
246 women. (c) 1998 Agence France Presse