Rebgong Monks Petition For Return of Confiscated Land

Their monastery had leased the land to a teacher's college, but authorities seized the property when the college moved.

The confiscated property is shown with Rongwo monastery in the background in an undated photo.

A Tibetan monastery in northwestern China’s Qinghai province is appealing for the return of property formerly leased to a teacher’s college but seized by local authorities after the college moved to a new location, Tibetan sources say.

The property, comprising one third of the total estate of Rongwo monastery in Rebgong (in Chinese, Tongren) county in the Malho (Huangnan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, was confiscated in 2016, prompting monks to petition for its return, a local source told RFA’s Tibetan Service.

“But Chinese authorities have already locked and sealed the property,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"Dismayed by the loss of their property, the monks are arguing that since Rongwo has so few resources of its own, the authorities should at least return the confiscated land if they can’t offer any other help,” the source said.

No reply to the petition has been received, though, and Rongwo’s nearly 700 monks are now asking the monastery’s state-controlled management committee to handle their request, the source said.

“And if the committee can’t take the responsibility to do this, they should at least openly say so, the monks are saying.”

In March 2016, authorities imposed sweeping new restrictions on Rongwo and other Rebgong monasteries, directing them to strictly follow the leadership of their management committees and strengthening a ban on the display of photos of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, sources in the region and in exile told RFA in earlier reports.

Chinese authorities set up the management committees in early 2012 in most Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, placing them under the direct control of government officials permanently stationed there, sources said.

The policy was enacted to ensure that monks and nuns do not participate in activities calling for an independent Tibet or “disturb the social order” by engaging in self-immolations or other protests, sources said.

Reported by Lhuboom for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Richard Finney.