Assimilation and destruction of Tibetan Buddhism are the two biggest threats facing Tibetans who are now suffering under over six decades of brutal occupation and rule by communist China. While there are numerous ways in which the Chinese government is systematically wiping out Tibetan Buddhism in Tibet and Tibetan areas, the authorities are most concerned and focused on controlling and neutralizing the role of senior Tibetan Buddhist monks and spiritual figures.
A hallmark of Tibetan Buddhism is the system of reincarnation through which important monks like the Dalai Lama, Panchen Lama and the Karmapa are reborn multiple times to serve humanity. The PRC and the CCP under Xi Jinping have adopted a harsh policy of Sinicization of Tibetan culture and religion and Chinese authorities have increasingly interfered and attempted to co-opt and control the traditional Tibetan system of reincarnation (also known as tulkus). The most recent and blatant example being the kidnapping and enforced disappearance of Gedhun Choeky Nyima, the 11th Panchen Lama, in 1995 and installation of its hand-picked candidate as the Panchen Lama. “Order No. 5” on “management measures for the reincarnation of living Buddhas in Tibetan Buddhism” issued by China’s State Administration of Religious Affairs in January 2007 requires official registration of all the tulkus for approval to practice. From 2016 onwards, the CCP started maintaining a database to track all the tulkus and began implementing a “training courses for newly reincarnated Living Buddhas” that would require the tulkus to undertake activities on behalf of the CCP.
Project Reincarnation is a multi-year initiative involving deep research and education on the Tibetan reincarnation system. The research will inform an outreach campaign in multiple countries and communities to educate the public on the issue of reincarnations of important Buddhist monks; and how the CCP interference in the reincarnation process constitutes a grave violation of the rights to religious freedom of the Tibetan people.
[Tibetan calligraphy in the logo by Tenpa Jamyang]