A top leader of the Communist Party of China has called for undertaking reforms in Tibetan Buddhist monasteries by appointing monks and nuns who are 'politically reliable' hinting at an apparent purge in the clergy.
Du Qinglin, head of the United Front Work Department of the party's central committee, also demanded that 'greater, concerted and solid efforts' must be made to implement democratic management in the monasteries, in a move that could strengthen government's hold on Tibet's influential religious centres in the politically sensitive province.
"Concerted and solid efforts must be made to implement democratic management in Tibetan Buddhist monasteries," Du was quoted as saying by the state-run Xinhua news agency.
"Competent Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns who are politically reliable, extraordinarily learned and widely respected should be selected to monastery management committees through thorough democratic consultation," he said.
Du, also vice-chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, made the remarks during a two-day conference on democratic management of Tibetan Buddhist monasteries at Xigaze of Tibet Autonomous Region, which began on Sunday.
Du said that in implementing monastery democratic management, the lawful rights of monasteries, orderly religious activities of monks and nuns, and normal religious practice of believers must be ensured. Monasteries play a very vital role in Tibet where Buddhism and Monks or heads of various sects of the religion wields spiritual and political influence over the masses.
Many of the top monks of Tibet including the Dalai Lama, the spiritual head, who fled to India in 1959 were selected through the complex process when they were children and then graduated through these institutions.
As per the prevailing rules, the posts of all the top monks known as Lamas have to be made with the approval of the Chinese government. Tibet's provincial capital Lhasa witnessed large scale riots in 2008 mainly directed against non-Tibetans in which several monks reported to have taken part. Chinese government blamed the Dalai Lama for instigating the riots, which he denied.
The 11th Panchen Lama, Bainqen Erdini Qoigyijabu, regarded as the second spiritual head of Tibetan Buddhism sent a congratulatory message to the conference which was attended by some 150 people from Tibetan Buddhist circles and relative governmental organisations.