Wire Service: RNS
On July 19, 2004 the Religion News Service reported, "The Chinese government is waging an organized war on Buddhism in Tibet, says a U.S.-based Tibetan interest group. A report released earlier this month by the nonprofit International Campaign for Tibet contains translated documents the group said prove Chinese policy is aimed at undermining the free practice of Buddhism, a central cultural underpinning of the mountainous region controlled since 1959 by China. China sharply disputes the report's contention. John Ackerly, president of the pro-Tibet group, said the report, 'When the Sky Fell to Earth,' shows Chinese laws that pertain to religion primarily are concerned with restraining the activities of monks, nuns and monasteries...The report also details the destruction of monasteries and the work of Democratic Management Committees, government-controlled groups of monks that regulate funding of each monastery, decide which monks can live there, and monitor activity to make sure it conforms to party doctrine...A spokesman in the Chinese embassy, Sun Weide, called the report's charges groundless. He said the 46,000 monks and nuns and more than 1,700 Buddhist sites in Tibet are evidence China permits religious freedom. 'I don't think there's any credibility for that kind of report, because everybody in Tibet is free to practice their religion,' Sun said. 'The freedom of religion is protected by the Chinese constitution.'"