Chinese authorities in a Tibetan county in Qinghai province have ordered a local clinic to destroy “prayer wheels” dedicated to the healing of disease, at the same time threatening to seize a sacred mountain and open it to exploration by mining firms, according to sources.
The prayer wheels—drums that are turned by hand to send out the blessings of written prayers contained inside—had been set up at the Central Heart Health Clinic in Dzora town in Golog (in Chinese, Guoluo) prefecture’s Matoe (Maduo) county, an area resident told RFA’s Tibetan Service.
“These 24 prayer wheels were installed in 2010 with funds raised from the clinic’s patients on the initiative of the doctors,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“They contained the six-syllable and hundred-syllable mantras of the Medicine Buddha, which are dedicated to the curing of diseases,” he said.
Chinese officials "recently" arrived at the clinic, which practices both traditional Tibetan and modern medicine and is the largest in its area, and ordered that the prayer wheels be taken down, the source added.
“They said that their installation had ‘political implications’ and warned that they would take action against those who had installed them if the prayer wheels were not quickly removed and destroyed.”
Though local Tibetans “showed displeasure” and protested the demolition order, they had no choice but to comply, he said.
“The Chinese authorities are now calling even our religious objects illegal and are treating the people who create them as criminals,” he said.
Threat to seize mountain
Matoe authorities have meanwhile also threatened to take possession of a nearby mountain considered sacred by Tibetans, vowing to open it for sale to “outsiders” for mining, RFA’s source said.
The mountain, called Rishor, rises above Kharkor village in Matoe and stands directly in front of the local Tashi Dargye Samdrub Ling monastery, the source said, adding “it is widely believed that ancient weapons and suits of armor were once hidden on the mountain as treasures.”
“County officials had previously held meetings to discuss excavating minerals from the sacred mountain, but area residents resisted the plan,” he said.
“So far, the local Tibetans have pressured local authorities to suspend the project. But if the government now disregards the people’s concerns, the Tibetans could rise up.”
On April 2, more than a hundred Tibetans in neighboring Gansu province protested the seizure of farmland for the construction of highways tied to state-linked gold mining and industrial activities they say are polluting the environment, according to sources in the area.
The protest by banner-carrying residents of a town in Gansu’s Sangchu (in Chinese, Xiahe) county came two weeks after other local demonstrations over government seizure of Tibetan land, and quickly drew police to the protest site, sources said.
Mining operations in Tibetan-populated regions have led to frequent standoffs between Chinese authorities and Tibetans, who accuse Chinese mining firms of disrupting sites of spiritual significance and harming the environment as they extract local wealth.
Sporadic demonstrations challenging Beijing’s rule have continued in Tibetan-populated areas of China since widespread protests swept the region in 2008.
A total of 130 Tibetans have also set themselves ablaze in self-immolation protests calling for Tibetan freedom, with another six setting fire to themselves in India and Nepal.
Reported by Kunsang Tenzin for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.