Authorities in western China’s Sichuan province have further tightened controls at the Larung Gar Buddhist Academy, setting up checkpoints at which monks, nuns, and visitors must now show permits allowing them to enter, Tibetan sources say.
The checkpoints are installed at two points on the main road leading to the complex, and include magnetic security gates through which only those holding proper documents may pass, one local source told RFA’s Tibetan Service.
“Residents and visitors are checked through each day after being closely questioned by the guards,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
After being cleared through one gate, people seeking entry are then stopped and questioned again at a second checkpoint farther down the road, the source said.
The new restrictions on access to Larung Gar are being applied not just to monks and nuns but also to laypersons, who must show I.D. cards at the checkpoints before being passed through, a second local source said, also speaking on condition he not be named.
“It is very clear that those without the right papers will not be allowed in,” the source said.
Many thousands of Tibetans and Han Chinese once studied at Larung Gar Academy in Sichuan’s Serthar (in Chinese, Seda) county, making it one of the world’s largest and most important centers for the study of Tibetan Buddhism.
At the end of June, though, a senior abbot at the center said that Chinese authorities had destroyed 4,725 monastic dwellings at Larung Gar over the course of the previous year, with a total of more than 7,000 demolished since efforts to reduce the number of monks and nuns living there began in 2001.
More than 4,825 monks and nuns have also been expelled since 2016, the abbot said, with many forced back to their hometowns and deprived of opportunities to pursue religious studies.
On Aug. 20 local authorities announced that six members of the ruling Chinese Communist Party, all of them Tibetan, had been appointed to manage the day-to-day affairs of the Buddhist study center, already reeling from the destruction of monastic dwellings and expulsion of monks and nuns.
The announcement severely demoralized many of those left behind, one local source said.
Reported by Kunsang Tenzin for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Benpa Topgyal. Written in English by Richard Finney.