China Imposes Harsh New Restrictions in Restive Tibet County

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A map of Driru county in Nagchu (Naqu) prefecture in Tibet.
A map of Driru county in Nagchu (Naqu) prefecture in Tibet.

Chinese authorities have launched a campaign to tighten restrictions on monastic life in a restive county in Tibet, ordering the destruction of recently built religious structures and demanding that younger monks be expelled from the monasteries and sent back to their family homes, according to sources.

The “rectification and cleansing” campaign in Driru (in Chinese, Biru) county in the Nagchu (Naqu) prefecture of the Tibet Autonomous Region was launched on Sept. 20 and will continue through Oct. 20, a local source told RFA’s Tibetan Service.

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.

Detailed instructions for Beijing's new campaign are contained in a 30-page document that is being distributed door-to-door by government workers in all the monasteries and villages in Driru,” the RFA source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“All new stupas, mounds of mani stones [stones displaying carved mantras], and shrines built after 2010 have been declared illegal and must be destroyed by a specified deadline,” the source said, adding that the monasteries or villages that originally set the structures up must be the ones to take them down.

“If they do not comply, the government will do it for them,” he said.

“It has also been ordered that retreat facilities built after Nov. 1, 2011, including houses for individual retreatants, must be torn down,” he said.

'Underage' monks expelled

Monks aged 12 and younger may no longer be enrolled in Driru-area monasteries, and those now present must return to their family homes by Oct. 20 or be expelled, with monastic leaders held criminally responsible if any remain beyond that date, the source said.

“Families who refuse to take their children back may be detained for six months, or even sent to jail for terms of from one to three years,” he said.

“If the lamas or khenpos in the monasteries hold back any of the underage monks, they will be punished and expelled themselves.”

Driru is one of three neighboring counties in Tibet’s eastern Nagchu prefecture from which Chinese authorities fear political unrest may spread unchecked to other parts of the region.

About 1,000 Driru-area Tibetans have been detained since authorities launched a crackdown in September 2013 when Beijing began a campaign to force Tibetans to fly the Chinese national flag from their homes, sources say.

The campaign intensified in early October 2013 when villagers refused to fly the flags, throwing them instead into a river and prompting a deadly security crackdown in which Chinese police fired into unarmed crowds.

“Now, monks and nuns who defy instructions to fly the Chinese flag from their houses or to prominently display photos of Chinese leaders will be expelled from the monastic community,” RFA’s source said.

“They are also forbidden from keeping photos of the Dalai Lama, and if these are found in their possession they will be ‘re-educated’ and deprived of the state benefits provided for monks and nuns by Chinese policy.”

Members of the public found with photos of the exiled spiritual leader must attend a six-month “refresher course” on Chinese law and will be banned for two years from collecting cordyceps sinensis, a valuable fungus harvested and sold for its purported medicinal properties, he added.

Reported by Kunsang Tenzin for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.

Comments (5)

Anonymous Reader

from China

I find it extremely ironic that Driru should be the most troublesome county in the TAR today. Driru after all is the home turf and birthplace of the most powerful Tibetan official of the last 35 years. Raidi rose from Driru to be Party Secretary of Nagchu and in the process created his own powerful Nagchu faction within the Tibet Communist Party. Following promotion to Lhasa, he skillfully deployed his faction members throughout the region's Party and Government structure. Gradually he took on the persona of a Boss Tweed operating behind the scenes providing advice and direction to TAR non-Tibetan Party Secretaries who were inexperienced in the ways of Tibet. 76 year old Raidi's finger prints are all over the policies and decisions of the last several decades. Even after Raidi retired in 2003 he continued to hold the ear of Hu Jintao but apparently no so under Xi Jinping. Raidi spends the summer months in his luxury Lhasa home (the rest of the year in Beijing or Chengdu where he also has homes), but in the past two years, to the best of my knowledge, this "son of Driru" has not been allowed to visit Driru perhaps for fear of making things worse. When trouble first broke out in Driru, members of Raidi's Nagchu faction were dispatched back there to put out the fires, but they failed miserably and were quickly replaced by senior Tibetan speaking Han officials some of whom were "second generation" officials born and raised in Tibet. They so far have a mixed report card and no ready solutions as this report suggests.

Oct 10, 2014 03:37 AM

Chinese Nationalist

When it comes to China's Territorial Integrity, Our National Unity, and Chinese Unification - we are truly willing to bear any cost, with any regard for life or death. Even five hundred million casualties on our own side would be completely meaningless, next to our Country Territorial Integrity.

Never doubt or question our resolve.

Oct 09, 2014 10:11 PM


from UK

Tibet belongs to Tibetans and the shameful Chinese government and the Chinese people who have benefited from Tibetans losing their culture, freedom, homes and lives are disgusting. Tibetan culture is so beautiful and respectful and China has done everything it can to destroy it. what beauty is there in a nation that has to force it's will on others to show how big and important it is. Nobody cares China! we just want you to stop destroying things! For a country who's main contribution to the world is, destruction, pollution, human rights offenses, opression and mass production of junk, they could do with being a little less sanctimonious, and that goes for all of you generic, brainwashed 'Chinese Nationalists'

Oct 09, 2014 08:14 AM


from NY

This is yet another clear example of the lack of freedom of religion in Tibet. The Chinese authorities prohibit Tibetans from building religious shrines & "mani stones." China also limits the number of monks and decides who can be in a monastery depending on their political beliefs or reverence for HH the Dalai Lama. Is it any wonder Tibetans want freedom from China?

Oct 08, 2014 10:21 AM

Chinese Nationalist

China's Tibet is no business of the Hegemonic Americans.

Neither is China's Xinjiang and China's Taiwan Province.

USA Stay Out of China's Sovereign Affairs!

Oct 08, 2014 02:33 AM

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