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Searching Tibetan monasteries, China requires monks to renounce ties to Dalai Lama

Chinese authorities in Tibet are randomly searching monasteries and forcing monks to sign documents renouncing all ties to the “separatist” Dalai Lama, Tibetan Buddhism’s foremost spiritual leader, Tibetan sources living in exile told us.

The Dalai Lama is widely regarded by Chinese leaders as a separatist intent on splitting Tibet, a formerly independent nation that was invaded and incorporated into China by force in 1950, from Beijing’s control.

The Dalai Lama, who now lives in exile in India, says only that he seeks greater autonomy for Tibet as a part of China, with guaranteed protections for Tibet’s language, culture, and religion.

We reported last year that China began requiring Tibetans working in official government positions to renounce all ties to the Dalai Lama as a condition of employment. Authorities appear to be including monasteries under this rule.

Beginning this month, Chinese authorities conducted searches of monasteries in Shentsa (in Chinese, Shenzha) and Sok (Suo) counties on the premise of maintaining security, a Tibetan living in exile, who requested anonymity for security reasons, told us. 

“The authorities search all the residences of the monks and the main shrines in the monasteries,” the exile said. “The monks of Shartsa Monastery are also forced into renouncing ties with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and be a part of anti-Dalai Lama groups.’ 


Chinese authorities conduct a search at a monastery in Nagchu. Credit: Citizen journalist


The Shartsa monks are seen signing their names on a board on the wall (Credit : in photos received by RFA). 

The text on the board states that “We will rigorously take part in opposing the Dalai Lama clique and will remain loyal and devoted to the country [China].”

As part of their searches, the authorities have been scrutinizing the monks’ prayer manuscripts and books, and removing prayer flags from shrines, said another exiled Tibetan, who declined to be named.

“They did not give any sort of warning before conducting these random searches,” said the second exile. The monks in these monasteries were summoned for a meeting where they were forced to sign documents renouncing the Dalai Lama and separatism.” 

Translated by Tenzin Dickyi. Edited by Eugene Whong and Malcolm Foster.