Dharamshala — Protests took place in cities around the world to campaign against alleged illegal demolitions and forced evictions carried out systematically by Chinese government in the Tibetan Buddhist community of Larung Gar, in eastern Tibet.
Larung Gar is one of the largest centers of Tibetan Buddhist learning in Tibet, mostly inhabited by monks and nuns. Founded in 1980, the community is primarily focused on the study of Tibetan Buddhism – one of the largest such communities in the world. Demolition of the Larung Gar academy began in July as part of a multiyear plan aiming to downsize the academy by 50 percent and evict at least half of its more than 10,000 residents, according to the organization Students for a Free Tibet. Three nuns from the region have committed suicide in protest.
Demonstrations took place in cities in European countries, Australia, the US and others, alongside the Dharamshala protest, on October 19, 2016. Tibetan Exile community in Dharamshala, organised solidarity event for Larung Gar and strongly condemn Chinese Communist Government's demolition of Larung Gar in Tibet.
Part of "Save Larung Gar event in Dharamshala, Tibetans and supporters also held a candle light vigil to show solidarity with the Larung Gar residence. The event was jointly organised by five Tibetan organisation; Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC), Tibetan Women Association (TWA), Gu Chu Sum, National Democratic Party of Tibet (NDPT) and Students for a Free Tibet-India (SFT).
In a joint statement, the five Tibetan organisations said that "Serta Ngarig Buddhist Academy is such an example. It is currently the largest and most influential centre for the study of Tibetan Buddhism in Tibet which hosts monks, nuns and laymen practitioners from every province of Tibet. It's been a strong hold of Buddhist dialectics and secular philosophy which has attracted followers from the around the world."
"Larung Gar has been able to conserve and promote Tibetan Buddhism and Tibetan culture as well as produce many renowned scholars. This is considered invaluable by the Tibetan community how a prick in the eye of the Chinese government which resulted in "reformation policy" where ongoing monastic classes have ceased and limitation on the number of practitioners has began," it said.
"Our generation of the Tibetan has witnessed the unjust occupation of Tibet by Red Chinese Armies and its cruel repression to an extent of attempting to eras our identity through its hard-line policies. In 1950s in the name of so called 'democratic reform movement', non-sectarian monasteries, important temples and sacred stupas were mercilessly destroyed," they stressed, adding that "the impact of Cultural Revolution could be felt strongly 1966 when monks and nuns were banished from practicing simple Buddhist rituals and chantings.
"The onset of 80's after Mao Zedong's death with the relative relaxation in the policies under new leadership of Chinese government, His Holiness the Dalai Lama began to make efforts to initiate dialogue with the opposition to resolve the Tibet issue with an aim of mutual beneficial result. However on the contrary from Chinese part, we've continuously witnessed false accusation and name calling like "separatist" against His Holiness. In the mid 90's Chinese Government has re-activated its stringent policy of religious repression.
"Since 2001 local authorities started to actively engage in expelling monks and nuns from the academy, destroy their quarters and control their religious activities which sparked suicide of peaceful practitioners as a mark of protest and further death caused by grief of figure like Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok," they stated.
According to the order on demolition of Larung Gar, Chinese government plans to reduce the number of Buddhist laymen, monks and nuns. By end of 2016, it plans or terminating 2200 practitioners out of which 1029 would be laymen and about 1200 monks and nuns which consist of 600 practitioners from other provinces. The order also plans to remove quarters and cut the numbers of monks and nuns down to 5000 by September 30, 2017.
The list of monks and nuns who would be suspended had to be submitted on June 15, 2016 and the required actions have to be taken by October 30, 2016. The order necessitated the Academy to submit a list of 5000 monks and nuns who will be allowed to stay back from which number of individuals belonging to other provinces should not cross 1000.
This project is undertaken by Zhang Ping Sheng, Dan Ni Ke, and Cai Ya Fang under the State United Front Work Department, State Ethnic and Religious Affairs Commission, State Department of Education, State Public Security Department, State Department of Civil Affairs and County government.
Supporters in over 20 cities around the world came out to show their support for Larung Gar, which is currently being systematically destroyed by China. As part of the day of action, 180 Tibet support groups from Tibet, Asia, Africa, the Americas, Australasia and Europe, also released a joint statement saying they are "gravely concerned" with the situation in Larung Gar – asking the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to "call on China to halt the ongoing demolitions and removals at Larung Gar" and push for a visit to China including "unfettered access to Tibet".
"We are gravely concerned by the damage and destruction being caused by the Chinese authorities at Larung Gar Buddhist Academy, one of the largest and most respected Buddhist institutions in the world, and home to at least 10,000 monks, nuns and visiting students,"
The Tibet support groups said that "This situation represents an intolerable imposition of state control at Larung Gar, and is representative of a far wider pattern of interference by the Chinese government in Tibet's religious affairs that is in direct contravention of the Chinese Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, both of which guarantee freedom of religious belief, with no discrimination or compulsion," the Tibetans and Tibet campaigners said.
"We urge the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to call on China to halt the ongoing demolitions and removals at Larung Gar, and allow local Tibetan religious leaders to make the decisions concerning the management of monasteries. We also urge the High Commissioner continue pushing for a visit to China with a specific request for unfettered access to Tibet, and to Larung Gar," the statement further added.