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2012 Report On Religious Freedom In Tibet

Tibetan exile monks stand during a candlelit vigil in New Delhi, India, to express solidarity with the plight of the Tibetan people.

"The [Chinese] government’s respect for and protection of religious freedom in the Tibet Autonomous Region ... deteriorated markedly,”

“The [Chinese] government’s respect for and protection of religious freedom in the Tibet Autonomous Region and other Tibetan areas deteriorated markedly,” said the U.S. State Department’s Annual Report on International Religious Freedom for the year 2012.

The Report indicated that repression was severe throughout the year, but tightened further in the lead-up to and during politically sensitive and religious anniversaries and events; such as the 15-day observance of Tibetan New Year, which started February 22; the fourth anniversary of the protests and riots in Tibetan areas that began on March 10, 2008; the observance of “Serf Emancipation Day” on March 28; and the Dalai Lama’s birthday on July 6.

Official interference in the practice of Tibetan Buddhist religious traditions continued to exacerbate tensions. There were at least 83 reported self-immolations by Tibetan Buddhist clergy and laypersons across the Tibetan Plateau. While all 12 of the individuals who self-immolated in 2011 were believed to be current or former monks or nuns, laypersons made up nearly half of those who committed the act in 2012.

The U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China Political Prisoner Database recorded 595 Tibetan political prisoners in Tibetan areas as of March 15, 2013. The actual number of Tibetan political prisoners and detainees was believed to be much higher, but cannot be confirmed due to the lack of access to prisoners and prisons, as well as the dearth of reliable official statistics.

There were also numerous reports of societal discrimination, including of Tibetans who encountered discrimination in employment, obtaining hotel accommodation, and in business transactions.

“The U.S. government repeatedly urged Chinese authorities at multiple levels to respect religious freedom for all faiths and allow Tibetans to preserve, practice, teach, and develop their religious traditions,” the Annual Report on International Religious Freedom said.

“U.S. government officials urged the Chinese government to engage in constructive dialogue with the Dalai Lama and his representatives, as well as to address the policies that threaten Tibet’s distinct religious, cultural, and linguistic identity and are a primary cause of grievances among Tibetans.”