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Chinese Repression Threatens Tibet's Buddhist Tradition

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CHINA's increasing persecution of religion in Tibet threatens to smother Tibetan Buddhism, says a report to be released today by the human rights organization International Campaign for Tibet. In addition to abusing the rights of monks and lay Buddhists, Beijing has systematically eliminated the few autonomous monasteries carved out in the last decade. Tibetan Buddhism could wither in its native land as China hampers the training of novice monks and bars religious practice outside monasteries, says the Washington-based organization.

``Prompt measures must be taken in Tibet today to ensure the continued existence and vitality of Tibetan Buddhism and to halt the egregious human rights abuses being committed against monks, nuns, and lay Buddhists,'' the report says.

State persecution has escalated since demonstrations began in Tibet against Chinese rule three years ago. Despite official pronouncements of religious freedom, the heavy-handed treatment of Buddhists has intensified in tandem with the nationwide crackdown on dissent beginning in June 1989, the report says.

The 96-page study is based on documents, official reports from China, and interviews with Tibetan monks and nuns who recently took refuge in India. It is one of the most detailed investigations into Communist persecution in the Himalayas.

Beijing yesterday condemned the report prior to its release.

``What the Tibetan monks in India claim totally disregards the facts; they are persons with ulterior motives,'' says Ren Yinong, deputy director of culture and information at the State Nationality Affairs Commission.

The report reveals that China's excesses extend beyond reports of torture and other human rights abuses into virtually every kind of attempt by Tibetan Buddhists to revitalize their faith.

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