China said to ban Karmapa photos

Aug 20, 2010

Category: Urgyen Trinley Dorje

China may have taken its first step towards bracketing the Karmapa with the Dalai Lama. While it still has not officially condemned him, in keeping with its hope for him to return to Tibet, Chinese police in several parts of Tibet have confiscated or banned pictures of the Karmapa, as it officially has in the case of the Dalai Lama, according to a Radio Free Asia online report Aug 17.

“Tibetans in Shankou, in the area of Chamdo, were ordered last year not to keep photos of the Karmapa Rinpoche,” the report quoted an unnamed Tibetan man who had recently arrived in Nepal from Tibet as saying. It further quoted him as saying, “Earlier on, Tibetans in many parts of the country were told they are not permitted to keep photos of the Karmapa.”

This included places in the area of Lhasa, Tibet’s capital. “In the Luguk neighborhood of Lhasa, some monks had hung photos of the Karmapa around their necks as amulets. … Police took them away from them,” the man was quoted as saying.

The report cited another source as saying drivers who transit Tibet and often carry photos of the Karmapa in their vehicles had been given strict orders not to carry them.

According to Tibet scholar Robbie Barnett at the Columbia University, if the restriction is being carried in more than one place, this may indicate a significant Chinese move against the Karmapa.

The head of the Karma Kagyu tradition of Tibetan Buddhism is the third most prominent Tibetan religious figure. He made a dramatic escape from his traditional monastic seat Tsurphu, near Lhasa, in Dec’99, to appear in Dharamsala several days later.

Recent media reports have cited him as potential successor to the Dalai Lama, although the Karmapa himself has denied any desire to assume that role.



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