The Chinese authorities are imposing extreme restrictions on the movement and activity of monks by implementing various policies within the monasteries of Tibet. Under the various policies implemented by the Chinese government on Tibetans, these intense restrictions are imposed on Tibetan monasteries in the Chinese-divided areas like Sichuan, Qinghai, and Gansu provinces. These campaigns followed the promotion of policies such as ‘Xi’s Thought’ and ‘Buddhism with Chinese Characteristics’, which continued in Tibetan monasteries for months and into years. The daily activities of monks are closely observed by deploying spies and surveillance apparatus.
A Tibetan who insists on remaining anonymous told the Tibet Times, “Recently, not only in monasteries but also undercover agents are dispatched to watch monks return home to their villages. The spies are sent as patrons of the monks, but in reality, they are spying and observing every level of activity of each monk. Under this systematic policy, the government would reward them for spying on Tibetan monks.”
Tibetan monasteries have been a platform for practicing religious activities and a center for preserving Buddhist religion, Tibetan culture, and language. The Chinese government monitors every movement and activity of Tibetan monks, especially those wearing the monk’s robe. Also, monks who need to visit a remote city or other places in Tibet; he has to apply for numerous travel documents. The monks in Kham and Amdo must apply for seven Chinese-affiliated travel documents from their respective places.
Regarding this matter, a Tibetan inside Tibet said, “These days, monks from Kham and Amdo are not permitted to go to Lhasa. Suppose it is necessary to travel for the sake of the individual or community. In that case, the travel permit is mandatory from the local authority, monastery, village authority, Police official, border security office, religious commission, and prefecture religious commission office. If one of these permit documents is missing and happens to travel to Lhasa, you must return from any airport or train station and would not be allowed to go further.”
The concerned person added, “The permit documents are all about the monk from which monastery and the place to which he belongs. Since the person has done nothing illegal or criminal, he can travel around following the law. It isn’t easy to get the authorized documents if he has participated in any particular political activity, especially if he participated in the large-scale peaceful protest of the Earth-Mouse year in 2008. After all the travel documents are approved, monks can travel for the pilgrimage for about a month. Since ancient times, monks and laypeople from Kham and Amdo regions have considered a pilgrimage on foot or by prostrating as a significant deed in their life. Currently, lay pilgrims are traveling to Lhasa; for them no need to apply for these permit documents. Yet it is difficult for monks to travel to Lhasa.”