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Democratic reform protects religious freedom in Tibet
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09:17, March 13, 2009

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The white paper titled "Fifty Years of Democratic Reform in Tibet" published by the Information Office of the State Council, or China's cabinet on March 2, 2009 points out that abolishing theocracy, separating religion from state, and protecting religious freedom. During the democratic reform, means of production, including land and livestock, originally owned by monasteries involved in the armed rebellion were all confiscated, while a policy of redemption was introduced with regard to the means of production of monasteries which had not participated in the rebellion.

The white paper says during the democratic reform, on the one hand, citizens' freedom of religious belief, and patriotic and law-abiding monasteries were protected by the law. Citizens have the freedom to become a monk or nun and monks and nuns can choose to resume secular life, regular religious activities as well as historical monasteries and cultural relics were all protected.

On the other hand, a policy of "political unity, freedom of religious belief and separation of politics and religion" was adopted, abolishing monasteries' feudal privileges in economy and politics, re-pealing monasteries' feudal occupation and exploitation, and personal slavery, as well as feudal management and hierarchy inside the monasteries, and ensuring that all religious beliefs were politically equal. Public funds and properties inside the monasteries were managed democratically, serving as production funds and for supporting monks and nuns as well as regular religious activities; the monasteries' management committees uniformly administered the land distributed to monks and nuns in accordance with their labor ability, and managed production. When the income of a monastery was unable to cover its regular expenses, the government would grant a subsidy.

The white paper points out through the democratic reform, all the monasteries in Tibet elected their own management committees, and conducted democratic management. The democratic reform enabled the true features of religion to emerge, effectively safeguarded the Tibetan people's freedom of religious belief, and laid a foundation for the introduction of the political system of people's democracy in Tibet.

Meanwhile, according to the white paper, the freedom of religious belief and normal religious activities of the Tibetan people are protected. Today, there are more than 1,700 religious venues in Tibet, with more than 46,000 resident monks and nuns, which can fully meet the needs of religious believers in Tibet.

Various traditional Buddhist activities are carried out in the normal way - from sutra studies and debates to abhisheka (consecration) and other Buddhist practices, as well as the system of academic degrees and ordination through examinations. According to incomplete statistics, there are now more than 60 classes for sutra studies in Tibet, with 6,000 novice monks. As a unique way of passing on Tibetan Buddhism, the Living Buddha reincarnation system receives respect from the state. In Tibet, religious activities are rich in content and diverse in form, with religious festivals celebrated frequently.

The white paper reveals that since the early 1980s, more than 40 religious festivals have been successively resumed. Monks and laymen organize and take part in the Sakadawa Festival, Shoton (Yogurt) Festival and other religious and traditional activities every year.

By People's Daily Online

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