The forced removals by Chinese authorities of monks and nuns from Sichuan’s Larung Gar Buddhist Academy are now almost complete, with nearly 5,000 expelled during the last year and almost 250 still waiting to leave, a senior abbot of the institute told residents on Thursday.
“During 2016 and so far in 2017, a total of 4,828 monks and nuns left Larung Gar, and now about 250 nuns from Qinghai province are left to go,” the abbot said in a March 23 talk to his followers, a recording of which was obtained by RFA’s Tibetan Service.
“They will leave over three days, from March 25 to March 27, and after they have gone, no one else will have to leave this center,” the abbot said.
Those who remain will be left to listen to, contemplate, and meditate on the Buddhist teachings, the abbot said, asking those present to be patient and not protest what he called the “implementation of Chinese government policy” at the world-famous academy.
“Those who have left had never wanted to leave,” he said. “All left against their own wish. And whether or not they had some place to go, they still had to leave.”
Many thousands of Tibetans and Han Chinese once studied at Serthar (in Chinese, Seda) county’s 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.
After months of destruction by Chinese work crews of monastic dwellings at Larung Gar, about 2,000 homes remain to be torn down, the abbot said.
“That work will begin from tomorrow, March 24,” the abbot said.
Also speaking to RFA, a recent traveler to the area said that monks and nuns at Larung Gar have been seen in some cases helping to demolish each others’ homes ahead of schedule.
“This is so they can safely collect their belongings and set timber aside for future use,” he said.
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 report, "Shadow of Dust Across the Sun."
"[Both centers] have drawn thousands of Chinese practitioners to study Buddhist ethics and receive spiritual teaching since their establishment, and have bridged Tibetan and Chinese communities," ICT said in its report.
Reported by Lhuboom for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.