China conducts demolitions at Tibetan Buddhist study site
Local officials in Garze prefecture said that they were carrying out demolitions to prevent overcrowding.world Updated: May 19, 2017 16:34 IST
Chinese authorities in south western Sichuan province have evicted followers and razed hundreds of homes at one of the world’s largest centers of Tibetan Buddhist learning in a months-long operation that has drawn protests from Tibetans in exile.
Local officials in Garze prefecture said that they were carrying out demolitions to prevent overcrowding and to renovate Larung Gar, a sprawling, mountainside settlement that housed more than 10,000 monks and nuns who stayed and studied for months at a time. Authorities are reportedly seeking to cut the population by half, to 5,000.
Overseas Tibetan groups said that the forced evictions and demolitions were meant to put a damper on the practice and spread of Tibetan Buddhism. Larung Gar’s academy has increasingly attracted large numbers of disciples from China’s Han ethnic majority as well as foreign visitors.
Earlier this year, a video circulated on social media that purportedly showed young Tibetan nuns from the monastery being directed to sing about their ‘Chinese-ness’ and pledge their patriotic loyalty inside a government building.
Several United Nations special rapporteurs wrote to the Chinese government in November to express concern about the “serious repression” of Buddhist Tibetan cultural and religious practices in the region.