The demolition of large sections of a Tibetan Buddhist study center in southwestern China’s Sichuan province has continued almost without a break since work began more than a week ago, with Chinese work crews leveling from 100 to 250 structures a day, according to sources in the region.
Monastic leaders at the Larung Gar Buddhist Academy in Serthar (in Chinese, Seda) county have urged the institute’s monks and nuns not to protest or resist the destruction of their homes, and the work is proceeding so far without interference, sources say.
“In the past six days, an estimated 600 dwellings have been torn down, with no sign that this will stop any time soon,” one source told RFA’s Tibetan Service.
“Nuns whose living quarters have been destroyed are now staying temporarily with other residents of the institute who have not yet been affected,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“This means that some dwellings are now holding as many as 15 people each,” he said.
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 is not a county plan “but comes from higher authorities,” with China’s president Xi Jinping taking a personal interest in the matter, sources told RFA in earlier reports.
Security forces deployed
Chinese authorities are now stationing armed security forces at the work site and are warning that attempts at protest or resistance will be punished by arrests and incarceration, RFA’s source said, adding that armed police have also been deployed to nearby areas.
“Orders have been given to keep 500 troops ready in Draggo (Luhuo) county, in Tawu (Daofu) county, and in Kardze (Ganzi) county to suppress any protests or resistance, so everyone has been advised to keep a low profile,” he said.
“The Chinese have planned to demolish around 2,000 dwellings this year alone, and more are expected to be wrecked next year,” he said.
Rights groups have slammed the government-ordered destruction at Larung Gar, with New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) saying that Beijing should allow the Tibetan people to decide for themselves how best to practice their religion.
“If authorities somehow believe that the Larung Gar facilities are overcrowded, the answer is simple,” HRW China director Sophie Richardson said in a statement in June.
“Allow Tibetans and other Buddhists to build more monasteries.”
Reported by Kunsang Tenzin for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Richard Finney.