by Allen Ai
A new report in the state-owned Tibet Daily claims that Tibetans are praising a new government program that provides them with basic public amenities and propaganda material.
Launched in December, the “9 must-haves” initiative seeks to supply Tibetans with new roads, running water, electricity, TV, radio, libraries and newspapers, in addition to increasing the visibility of Chinese leaders’ portraits and national flags. Over 1 million national flags and portraits have been distributed so far, with state-run media declaring that the purpose of hanging leaders’ portraits is to express “gratitude for the Party and central government.”
One monk in Tibet’s Konggar County sang the praises of the local temple administration committee for improving the content and variety of his temple’s library catalogue.
“Before, the books in the temple library were mainly about Buddhism. Now, popular science books have been added, and they help to broaden our knowledge,” the unnamed Konggar County monk was quoted as saying in Tibet Daily. “The [administration committee] even subscribes to the Tibetan-language version of People’s Daily for us.”
“The ’9 must-haves’ improves the overall environment of the temple, enriches our life and makes religious practice more convenient. Thank the Party and the government’s care”, the monk went on to state.
After numerous protests and incidences of self-immolation, activists see the “9 must-haves” program as merely the latest government attempt to appease Tibetans. Critics state that increasing Tibetans’ quality of life with material means is no substitute for religious freedom, and that the central government’s control of Tibet is still tight.
As recently as this Saturday, another case of self-immolation was reported, with the latest incident involving a teenage nun in Sichuan’s Aba prefecture.
With the four year anniversary of the March 2008 Lhasa protests approaching, authorities have closed the Tibet Autonomous Region to foreigners, and ID cards will be required for entry into Tibet.