The official Chinese news agency Xinhua March 16 quoted the 11th Panchen Lama Gyaincain Norbu harshly condemning the Tibetan uprising: “The rioters’ acts not only harmed the interests of the nation and the people, but also violated the aim of Buddhism… We resolutely oppose all activities to split the country and undermine ethnic unity. We strongly condemn the crime of a tiny number of people to hurt the lives and properties of the people.”
Some vital context is provided by Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion:
The teenage Gyaincain Norbu doubtless knows on which side his bread is buttered; he was infamously installed as a puppet spiritual leader by the Chinese authorities several years ago, and the Tibetan protests have reportedly included calls for the release of his rival for the position, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, who was chosen by the Dalai Lama and who has been under arrest in China since the age of six (last year, China famously declared that the reincarnations of such “Living Buddhas” must be approved by the government). Gyaincain Norbu also resides in China, although he makes visits to Tibet to dispense blessings – in fact, he appeared in a BBC documentary series, A Year in Tibet, just a few days ago. The inhabitants of Gyantse, the town featured in the programme, appeared to respect his status, despite reports that he is unpopular.
Supporting Gyaincain Norbu’s position on the protests is Dazhag Dainzin Geleg, a vice-president of the Tibetan Branch of the Buddhist Association of China:
“A handful of Buddhist monks didn’t study the scriptures, didn’t follow our religious canon, but echoed the Dalai clique in splittist efforts to undermine the stability in Tibet and destroy the order of the Tibetan Buddhism,”
The president of the Tibetan branch of the Buddhist Association of China is Zhukang Tubdain Kaizhub, who enjoys the spiritual status of “Living Buddha” and the worldly title of “vice chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference of Tibet Autonomous Region”. The Association is a branch of the Chinese government, and he has been keen to stress that there is religious freedom Tibet.
Another vice-president of the Tibetan branch of the Buddhist Association of China (and “Living Buddha”) is Phagpala Geleg Namgyal, a prominent collaborationist and CCP official. Last year a young female refugee made certain allegations against him on the TibetInfoNet website.
See our last post on the Tibet crisis.