Chinese officials seeking to reduce the population of the large Larung Gar Buddhist Academy in Sichuan have begun offering cash inducements to some monks and nuns to leave amid the forced removals of thousands of others, sources in the region say.
At the same time, many monks and nuns native to the Institute’s Serthar (in Chinese, Seda) county, and who were formerly thought safe from eviction, are being told to leave, sources say.
“Chinese workers going from door to door have been seen handing out flyers written in Chinese and Tibetan, encouraging monks to leave the complex by offering 20,000 yuan (U.S. $2,975) for voluntary departure,” one local source told RFA’s Tibetan Service.
“A further 30,000 yuan (U.S. $4,463) is being offered if they give up their homes to be destroyed,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
RFA was not immediately able to confirm the reports of monetary offers being made, and many of Larung Gar’s residents have already been forced to leave and return to their family homes without compensation.
Many thousands of Tibetans and Han Chinese study at the sprawling Larung Gar complex, which was founded in 1980 by the late religious teacher Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok and is one of the world’s largest and most important centers for the study of Tibetan Buddhism.
The order now to reduce the number of Larung Gar’s residents by about half to a maximum level of 5,000 by Sept. 30 next year “comes from higher authorities,” with China’s president Xi Jinping taking a personal interest in the matter, sources told RFA in earlier reports.
Thousands have already left, many with residents coming originally from areas outside the Institute’s Serthar (in Chinese, Seda) county targeted first for eviction.
“Many monks and nuns who came from the Tibet Autonomous Region and from Qinghai, Gansu, and Yunnan have already been ordered to leave,” another local source told RFA, also speaking on condition of anonymity.
“Now it is being said that some of the monks and nuns from Serthar and from Kardze [Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture] are also being forced out,” the source said.
“About 243 monks and nuns from Serthar have now been ordered to leave Larung Gar and to turn over their houses for destruction,” he said.
Hundreds of monastic dwellings—many lying along lanes and roads marked for widening—have already been torn down, with a goal set by authorities of 1,000 to be destroyed by the end of the year, sources say.
Reported by Kunsang Tenzin for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.