The State Department’s Annual Report on International Religious Freedom, released on May 20, said that the Chinese government’s respect for and protection of religious freedom in Tibetan areas “deteriorated markedly” in 2012, with a substantial increase in official interference in Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and nunneries. “Official interference in the practice of Tibetan Buddhist religious traditions continued to generate profound grievances,” the report said.

Speaking at the release of the report Secretary John Kerry said “when countries undermine or attack religious freedom, they not only unjustly threaten those whom they target; they also threaten their country’s own stability.”

In her remarks before releasing the report, Ambassador-at-Large for Religious Freedom Suzan Johnson Cook spoke about her recent trip to China and said “I pressed Chinese government officials to uphold the right to religious freedom for all and to stop abusing this universal right.” She added “the [Chinese] government restricts the practices of many groups including Tibetan Buddhists . . .”

The report highlights 83 cases of self-immolation in the year 2012 and documents cases of detention and disappearances of monks. The report says that the repression was pervasive and “monasteries were increasingly forbidden to deliver traditional educational and medical services to the people of their communities, and official intimidation was used to compel acquiescence and preserve a facade of stability.” The report also said that the U.S ambassador to China urged the Chinese government in an online forum on October 29, 2012, to “meet with the representatives of the Tibetan people to address and re-examine some of the policies that have led to some of the restrictions and the violence and the self-immolations.”

The Tibet section in State Department human rights and religious freedom reports was mandated by Congress in 2002.

ICT’s compendium of the Tibet section of the annual International Religious Freedom Report can be found here »