Tibetans who want to get public sector jobs must comply with a harsh Chinese rule requiring them to denounce the Dalai Lama, the leader of Tibetan Buddhism.
The move would seem to violate China’s constitution, which officially protects the freedom of religion.
An official directive from Beijing released this month advertised 554 new public job opportunities in the city of Sigatse (in Chinese Xigaze) for its Village Development Expansion Program. It sought college graduates from the Tibet Autonomous Region with training in medicine, counseling and village development.
Those applying for these jobs must be “trustworthy and reliable citizens,” renounce the Dalai Lama, refrain from separatism and remain loyal to the ruling Chinese Communist Party, the directive said.
Beijing accuses the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, who lives in exile in India, of supporting terrorism and trying to split Tibet from China, labeling him a separatist.
However, the Dalai Lama supports a policy called the “Middle Way,” which accepts Tibet’s status as a part of China but urges greater cultural and religious freedoms.
China’s constitution states that “no state organ, public organization or individual may compel citizens to believe in, or not believe in, any religion; nor may they discriminate against citizens who believe in, or do not believe in, any religion.
However, in practice, the government often exerts its influence over religious matters.
Requiring job applicants to denounce the Dalai Lama is a common tactic of the Chinese government to oppress Tibetans, said Pema Gyal, a researcher at the London-based Tibet Watch.
“The Chinese government has often used the employment and education system as an opportunity to suppress Tibetans inside Tibet and violate their basic human rights,” he said. “Such guidelines and repressive conditions for job candidates created by the authorities have only made the livelihood of Tibetans very difficult.”
The effort will not be successful, said Pema Gyal.
“The Chinese government may use as many strategies as they want, but they cannot succeed in erasing the faith and loyalty that Tibetans have for His Holiness the Dalai Lama,” he said.
RFA reported earlier this month that China held “anti-separatism” workshops that urged Tibetan students and teachers to denounce the Dalai Lama.
A Tibetan resident told RFA that it is difficult for college graduates in the regional capital Lhasa to find jobs.
“I have been observing this for a while,” the resident said. “A female graduate may find a very regular job of childcare in childcare centers, but it’s impossible to get a government job.”