Larung Gar Buddhist Academy Closes to New Enrollment as China Tightens Controls

2019-04-19
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The Larung Gar Buddhist Academy in Sichuan's Serthar county is shown in a recent photo.
The Larung Gar Buddhist Academy in Sichuan's Serthar county is shown in a recent photo.
Photo sent from Tibet

Authorities in western China’s Sichuan province have further tightened controls at the Larung Gar Buddhist Academy, declaring that no new residents may now be admitted to live and study there, Tibetan sources say.

The move follows a years-long campaign of expulsions of monks and nuns and demolition of their dwellings that has seen thousands already living at the sprawling study center forced to leave and forbidden to return.

Now, a government order recently delivered to senior monks at Larung Gar, located in Sichuan’s Serthar county, says that no further enrollments will be allowed, a source living in the region told RFA’s Tibetan Service this week.

“The restriction requires that not even one new admission from outside [Larung Gar] will be permitted,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“If the institute learns that any new residents have been admitted, those enrollees are to be turned away immediately,” the source said, adding that authorities have warned that failure to comply with government orders will lead to even harsher policies being imposed.

Walls have recently been built around large sections of Larung Gar, and three checkpoints put in place, to prevent unauthorized entry, another local source told RFA.

“The arrivals and departures of monks and nuns are closely monitored, and they are kept under strict surveillance around the clock,” the source said, also speaking on condition his name not be used.

In a speech given on April 16 to monks and nuns at Larung Gar, senior teacher Khenpo Tsultrim Lodroe said 2019 may be a difficult year for residents at the center, warning that “almost any kind of problem may be encountered if we don’t exercise necessary caution and care,” RFA’s source said.

“The Khenpo urged that for the sake of the institute’s continuity and survival, everyone should behave appropriately in their actions and their speech,” the source said.

During 2017 and 2018, at least 4,820 Tibetan and Han Chinese monks and nuns were removed from Larung Gar, with over 7,000 dwellings and other structures torn down beginning in 2001, according to sources in the region.

The expulsions and demolitions at Larung Gar, along with restrictions at Yachen Gar, another large Buddhist center in Sichuan, are part of “an unfolding political strategy” aimed at controlling the influence and growth of these important centers for Tibetan Buddhist study and practice, the Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) said in a March 13, 2017 report.

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

CH. 1: MANDARIN | CANTONESE

CH. 2: VIETNAMESE | BURMESE | KOREAN

CH. 3: KHMER | LAO | UYGHUR

CH. 4: TIBETAN

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