Chinese authorities have moved to tighten restrictions on monastic life in a restive county in Tibet, expelling 26 unregistered nuns from a nunnery and study center offering courses in Buddhist philosophy, sources said.
The nuns were not among the 140 allowed to live in Jada nunnery in Driru (in Chinese, Biru) county in the Nagchu (Naqu) prefecture of the Tibet Autonomous Region, according to the sources.
They were removed as part of a crackdown launched in September, when “the frequency of inspection by government officials was increased,” Ngawang Tharpa, a Tibetan living in India, told RFA’s Tibetan Service.
Though authorities had officially approved 140 nuns to reside at Jada, “other nuns were studying there who had come from other areas,” Tharpa said, citing contacts in Driru.
“And whenever government officials came to check, those nuns would run away into the hills so that they wouldn’t be detected and expelled,” Tharpa said.
Officials stationed at Jada finally became “more aggressive,” though, he said—especially after nuns refused to take part in campaigns of public denunciation of exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.
Increased scrutiny then led to the identification of nuns not allowed to live there, Tharpa said.
“So when the officials found the unregistered nuns, they began to force them out, and so far they have expelled 26,” he said.
Major study center
Driru’s Jada nunnery is well-known for its curriculum in Buddhist philosophy and has attracted nuns from nearby places “like Gyalton, Trildo, Sog, and Nagchu, and from all three regions of Tibet,” Tharpa said.
“The condition of those who were expelled is said to be poor, with many now having no place to go or pursue their studies.”
Tibetans in Driru, a county considered “politically unstable” by Beijing, have long resisted forced displays of loyalty to Beijing, which has imposed tight restrictions in the area, including a clampdown on communications.
In September, Chinese authorities launched a month-long “rectification and cleansing” campaign, ordering the destruction of recently built religious structures and demanding that younger monks be expelled from their monasteries and sent back to their family homes, according to sources.
Sporadic demonstrations challenging Chinese rule have continued in Tibetan-populated areas of China since widespread protests swept the region in 2008, with 133 Tibetans to date setting themselves ablaze to oppose Beijing’s rule and call for the return of exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.
Reported by Lobe Socktsang and Rigdhen Dolma for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.