Tibet eases rule on portraits in monasteries

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 March, 2012, 12:00am


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Officials in Tibet appear to have relaxed a controversial campaign that asked all monasteries to display portraits of state leaders.

Qiangba Puncog, director of Tibet's regional people's congress standing committee, said in an interview with the government-affiliated China.com.cn website, released yesterday to mark Serfs Emancipation Day, that while monasteries should ensure they had portraits of state leaders, putting them on display was not compulsory.

The holiday was endorsed by the region's legislature in early 2009 to mark the failure of the 1959 Tibetan uprising against Communist Party rule and the end of the Dalai Lama's reign. Beijing says reforms that began then ended the feudal serf system and freed 90 per cent of the region's population from servitude.

'Many families are still hanging portraits of Mao Zedong. It is a natural expression of feelings to worship the state leaders. It is not an odd thing for us here to hang state leaders' portraits at all,' Qiangba Puncog said.

The Tibetan government launched a 'nine haves' campaign last year, saying all monasteries must have the national flag; portraits of Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao; the People's Daily; televisions; radios; books; electricity; road access; and water.

A mainland Tibetan affairs scholar said Qiangba Puncog's remarks indicated that the Tibetan government had backed down from strict control. 'It is not a modern way of management and it is backpedalling from modern democracy,' the scholar said.

Meanwhile, Tibet's regional government chairman, Padma Choling, blasted the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, in a televised speech on Tuesday, saying the 'Dalai clique's separatist attempt is against the trend of history and the will of people'.