Chinese authorities restricted Tibetan Buddhists' access to the Kalachakra teachings in Tibet

Photos of the tents on the Dzoghe Toema meadow for the Kalachakra teachings of the 7th Gungthang Rinpoche from 15 to 17 September 2023, with the notice of the Chinese authorities.

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Dharamshala, India — The Chinese authorities attempt to restrict Tibetans' access to Gungthang Rinpoche's Kalachakra teachings in a notice. This notice states that the Kalachakra has not been organised for monks and laypeople from other regions inside and outside the town of Dzoghe and orders Tibetans from other regions to go back. Traditionally, the Buddhist teaching of the Kalachakra is open and accessible to all Tibetans. The imposition of restrictions on it is a violation of freedom of religion.

The Kalachakra (Wheel of Time) teachings of the 7th Gungthang Rinpoche took place in the grassland of Dzoghe Toema (Zuogaiduoma) township in Tsoe (Hezuo), so called Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Gansu (Tibet), from 15 to 17 September 2023. Tibetans from inside and outside the prefecture came before the teaching and camped at the teaching site for several days to receive Gungthang Rinpoche's religious teachings. But the people's government of the town of Dzoghe Mema, in the town of Tsoe, ordered thousands of followers of Tibetan Buddhism, who had gathered to receive the Kalachakra teachings, to leave the town, according to the notice dated September 10, 2023.

The notice states, “This religious teaching is for the monks and lay people of Dzoghe Mema Town and Dzoghe Toema Township (the hometown of Gungthang Tsang Trulku), and has not been arranged as a venue for the monks and lay people of other regions inside and outside of the prefecture.”

“In order to make the religious gathering activities harmonious, stable and smoothly held, to avoid on-site traffic jams and people congestion, management chaos, etc., the working group of coordination and management for the religious gathering will persuade believers from outside to go back. People from other areas both inside and outside of the prefecture please do not go to the event site, and hope that monks and laypeople to inform each other,” the notice added.

According to the reports, this is not the first time that the Chinese authorities have issued such a notice: in July 2023, they also cancelled a religious event, citing the fact that this month marked the 70th anniversary of the creation of Kanlho (Gannan), known as the Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture.

A large group of Chinese officials accompanied by armed police arrested the organisers in north-eastern Tibet on July 19 2023 and stopped the Kalachakra initiation ceremony scheduled for July 20-23 2023 in Samey-shi village, Gumong town, Mangra (Guinan) county, Tsolho (Hainan), Tso-Ngon, northeast, Tibet. It was led by the ritual master Athi Kalsang Tashi Gyatso Rinpoche, head of the Athi monastery in Tsolho Prefecture.

Numerous videos of the congregation posted on social networks show a huge gathering of followers of Tibetan Buddhism, with thousands of white tents on one of Tibet's largest meadows of Dzoghe Toema, township in Tsoe. Traditionally, the Buddhist teaching of the Kalachakra (Wheel of Time), is open and accessible to all Tibetans, regardless of where they live or what they do. But the Chinese authorities have restricted access to this teaching to residents of a specific area, in violation of fundamental human rights and freedom of religion in Tibet.

Hence, despite the government order, thousands of Tibetan devotees, who had already arrived at the site from afar, seem to have ignored the government order for the opportunity to receive teachings from their revered teacher as some visual evidence also reveals.