WTN-L World Tibet Network News

China uses prostitutes to bring shame on Tibetan monks


Published by: The Canada Tibet Committee
Editorial Board: Brian Given, Conrad Richter, Nima Dorjee,
Tseten Samdup, Thubten (Sam) Samdup
WTN Editors:

By Jenny Morris in Lhasa
Sunday 28 March 1999

The Telegraph (London, U.K)

THE Chinese authorities are attempting to flood Tibetan monasteries with prostitutes and gamblers as part of their latest attempt to bring disgrace upon the monks and to discredit their Buddhist faith.

The main target of the new Chinese campaign is the Potala Palace, formerly home to generations of Dalai Lamas. Well-placed Tibetan sources say Chinese prostitutes are now being sent to tempt monks to break their vows and encourage gambling.

For the past two years a number of Chinese, especially young women, have been taught the Tibetan language and "trained" to target monks in big monasteries. The Potala Palace, which has security cameras throughout, has been singled out because any encounter between a monk and a prostitute can be filmed and publicised.

There is also growing concern that the Chinese have managed to force large numbers of monks to act as informers. Tibetan dissident groups claim that up to 40 per cent of monks are effectively "Chinese military wearing red robes".

Among young lay Tibetans the reputation of monks is already suffering. One Tibetan said: "Monks play mah-jong, they wear gold watches. They dress in monks' clothes during the day to beg and then change into civilian clothes at night . . . I have lost trust in Tibetan people, even friends, even my family. No one trusts anyone any more."

Attempts to place prostitutes inside the monasteries are the latest tactic employed by the Chinese in their 40-year campaign to eradicate Tibetan culture and religion. The Chinese authorities in Llasa have recently stepped up their hard-line religious policies aimed at forcing Tibetans - particularly monks and nuns - to abandon their Buddhist faith and allegiance to their exiled leader, the Dalai Lama, in an attempt to suppress dissent.

Since 1994 religious policies have focused on "re-educating" monks and nuns, and work units are sent into monasteries and nunneries, even in remote areas, to "manage" the residents. The primary objective of the campaign is to turn Tibet into an atheist country. The London-based organisation Tibet Information Network claims that at a meeting of the Communist propaganda department in Lhasa earlier this year it was decreed: "Atheism is necessary to promote economic development and to strengthen the anti-Dalai Lama campaign."

The three-year campaign will use the media and work units to promote atheism. Opposition groups note that the propaganda drive was launched on the same day as the Beijing authorities reaffirmed their stated policy of protecting freedom of religious belief in Tibet.

In reality there is little freedom of expression, religious or otherwise. Monks and nuns face daily harassment. When I visited a nunnery near Lhasa, eight cars full of police and officials arrived. I heard later that they plan to send half the nuns back to their local communities. The policy of sending monks and nuns home is spreading dissent, even inside prisons. Last May, a visit to Drapchi prison in Lhasa by an EU delegation that included the British ambassador from Beijing triggered a violent demonstration by inmates. Over a dozen died and a month later, a further seven nuns, the suspected ring leaders of the protest, were found dead in their cells.

The Drapchi deaths were not raised last week at the annual meeting of the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva, and Tibet was scarcely mentioned. Despite continued abuses across the mainland, the EU decided not to censure China's human rights record. According to the latest TIN study of prison conditions, there is a greater risk of death inside prison than ever before.

State-of-the-art torture equipment is being used, I was told - cattle prods have been replaced by powerful electric shock batons. This type was used repeatedly on one nun who, after three years in detention, can no longer get up to dress herself. She is expected to die of her wounds within a year.