China Tightens Security at Tibetan Religious Teaching

Chinese security forces in Tsoe, June 9, 2014.

Chinese security forces are ramping up their presence in a town in China’s northwestern Gansu province where thousands of Tibetans have gathered to attend a Kalachakra ceremony, an ancient Buddhist ritual, sources say.

The ceremony, conducted by the elderly and well-respected monk Setsang Lobsang Palden Rinpoche, is being held this week in Tsoe (in Chinese, Hezuo) city in the Kanlho (Gannan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, a resident of the area told RFA’s Tibetan Service on Monday.

“Chinese authorities have increased the presence of security forces around Tsoe city, where Setsang Rinpoche is conferring his fourth Kalachakra teaching,” the resident said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“Armed paramilitary forces, police, security personnel, and secret service agents have been posted all over Tsoe, and army trucks have been positioned in different places around the city to intimidate the crowd that has gathered for the teaching,” the source said.

“Officials from different counties in the prefecture have been ordered to monitor their citizens’ movements and report on their activities,” he added.

The Kalachakra ceremony, which is often conducted outside Tibet by exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, began on June 9 and will run until June 12 and is being held at the Genden Choeling monastery on the outskirts of Tsoe, the source said.

Costs for the event are being sponsored by 21 area villages, he added.

'Unity and harmony'

“This will be the fourth Kalachakra teaching conferred by the same lama,” or senior religious teacher, the source said, adding that when the ceremony’s preliminary teachings were given on June 9, participants were instructed to recite mantras and practice “virtuous actions.”

Kalachakra, which means “Wheel of Time,” is a ritual that prepares devotees to be reborn in Shambhala, a celestial kingdom which, it is said, will vanquish the forces of evil in a future cosmic battle.

Setsang Rinpoche, who was born in 1938 and was enthroned  as a reincarnate lama at the age of four, also stressed “unity and harmony” within the Tibetan community, the source said.

“He gave his third Kalachakra teaching in June last year in Dzoege [Ruo’ergai] county in the Ngaba [Aba] prefecture in Sichuan, and over 300,000 Tibetans attended.”

Concerned that large gatherings in Tibetan areas might launch sudden protests against Beijing’s rule, Chinese security forces frequently monitor, and sometimes close down, events involving large crowds, sources say.

Sporadic demonstrations challenging Beijing’s rule have continued in Tibetan-populated areas of China since widespread protests swept the region in 2008, with 131 Tibetans to date self-immolating to oppose Beijing’s rule and call for the Dalai Lama’s return.

Reported by Lumbum Tashi for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.

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