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ICC Note: The Chinese government consistently denies freedom of religion to Chinese citizens, whether they are followers of Buddhism, Christianity, Islam or other religions.  It is difficult to understand how the government of China rationalizes its persecution of religious adherents with the Chinese constitution which allegedly allows freedom of religion.

By reporters, Beijing and Hong Kong

09/11/2015 China (

Late on Aug. 27, frantic villagers tried to extinguish flames engulfing 55-year-old mother Tashi Kyi. By 3 a.m., on Aug. 28, she was dead.

Tashi self-immolated after authorities bulldozed houses that failed to provide the right paperwork in a small Tibetan village in China’s Sangchu County.

Ten other Tibetans in Sangchu have self-immolated over the past three years, including Tashi’s 18-year-old nephew, Sangay Tashi. In 2012, Sangay called for the return of Tibet’s spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, before setting himself ablaze.

“His self-immolation was also an act of protest against the actions and brutalities of the Chinese government,” Sangay’s brother, Jamyang Jinpa, wrote in a letter published online in early September.

Tibet has been both the testing ground and the blueprint for Beijing’s strategies for dealing with religious minorities in other parts of the country — from Muslim Uighurs, to its long-running campaign against Christianity. And as China marks 50 years of governance in Tibet this week, Beijing continues to ignore complaints over its heavy-handed rule.

In the half-century that China has ruled Tibet, similar policies have been instituted in cycles targeting ethnic minorities and religions.

Elsewhere, the government has long suppressed the Muslim Uighur minority. A “strike-hard” campaign initiated in May has triggered a period of intense persecution against Uighurs.

In Zhejiang province, Christians have been devastated by a two-year cross-removal campaign. While the actions against Zhejiang Christians have been pushed by local authorities, many observers believe such a long-standing campaign must have tacit approval from Beijing.

Taken together, such actions underscore the Communist Party’s fear of organized religion as a potential alternative power base to the party itself.

The severity of these actions has depended on the threat level perceived by Beijing, notes Fenggang Yang, director of Purdue University’s Center on Religion and Chinese Society.

“At the minimum, the Chinese Communists in their gut have deep suspicion and distrust in religious leaders even if they seem to be amicable toward religious believers and leaders during the good times,” he said.

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