Committees to ensure stability in Tibet’s monasteries

By Zou Le Source:Global Times Published: 2012-2-15 23:55:09

A management committee has been established in every monastery in the Tibet Autonomous Region to oversee general monastery affairs, an official in charge of local religious affairs said.

Headed by government workers, the so-called Monastery Management Committee also consists of monks and nuns who carry out duties including tourist reception, cultural relic protection and assisting locals with religious affairs, Luobu Dunzhu, a director with the office of religious affairs under the Tibetan United Front Work Department, said to the Global Times.

"It is under the mission of establishing harmonious monasteries that we are stepping up these committees," Luobu said.

Tensions have been high in Tibetan regions ahead of the Tibetan New Year next week and the fourth anniversary of the March 14 riots in Lhasa in 2008.

Two riots were reported in the Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture during the Chinese New Year amid foreign media reports that several monks had set themselves ablaze.

During an inspection tour Tuesday to monasteries, Lhasa's Party chief Qi Zhala urged monastery committee workers to raise vigilance and create a "harmonious and stable" social environment for the 18th National Congress of the CPC to be open in a few months, the Tibet Daily reported.

Qi said that monastery committees must further raise vigilance and recognize the "important role it has played in maintaining stability," the report said.

Tibet began establishing monastery committees in November last year and managed to expand them to the regions' 1,787 monasteries early this year, according to Luobo, who said that the number of staff members at the committees could reach as many as 30 for some big monasteries and only a few for smaller ones.

Luobo said that one of the duties of the committees' staff is to take charge of the monks' health care insurance, which now covers 80 percent of the regions' monks and nuns.

In response to concerns that monastery committees might disturb religious practices, Luobu said that "monks and nuns have the freedom to perform their religious rituals and the establishment of such committees is aimed at ensuring such practices."

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