Dharamshala — The Tibet Museum, next to His Holiness the Dalai Lama's temple in Mcleod Ganj, inaugurated a new photo exhibition on October 28, revisiting the destruction of the Cultural Revolution in Tibet.
The new photo exhibition, documenting the cultural revolution in Tibet, consists of six phases: the start of the revolution; Destruction of Jokhang Temple; the Struggle Session; Name Change; Creation of New God and Destruction of Monasteries.
In accordance with the exhibition's opening, the director of the museum, Tashi Phuntsok, released a four-page tri-fold revisiting the history, claiming "During the ten-year-long Cultural Revolution in Tibet from 1966 to 1976, the attack on Tibetan religion, culture, identity and traditional way of life was further intensified. Mani walls, prayer flags, incense burning, circumambulation and prostration were all banned, and monks and nuns were forced to marry or sent to labor camps. Religious texts and books were labeled as 'poisonous weeds' and burned, thrown in the river or mixed with dung. The only book with authorized circulation at that time was the Little Red Book containing quotations from Chairman Mao. The number of Moa's little red books in a home exceed the number of family members.
"Most of the schools were shut down and Tibetan and Chinese students formed Red Guard brigades and attacked the 'four olds' – old thoughts, old customs, old habits and old cultures. The Jokhang temple, Tibetan Buddhists' most sacred site, was plundered, destroyed and desecrated beyond repair.
"Although the Cultural Revolution in China was unleashed by Mao to eliminate his enemies and reshape relations within the party, in Tibet, the Cultural Revolution was aimed to destroy Tibet's religion, culture and identity. When it ended with Mao's death in September 1976, more than 6,000 monasteries and religious institutions in Tibet laid in ruins. Millions of ancient and priceless manuscripts were burnt. Statues made of gold, silver, or bronze were removed from the temples and shipped to China. The physical torture and psychological traumas endured by Tibetans during public 'struggle sessions' and imprisonment were beyond human comprehension. At least 92,000 Tibetans who were subjected to 'struggle sessions' died or committed suicide and around 173,000 Tibetans died in prison, or in 'Reform Through Labor Camps'."
Tashi Phuntsok continues to suggest that the Cultural Revolution in Tibet has never truly come to an end, claiming, "Even forty years after the end of the Cultural Revolution, the attack on Tibetan religion, culture, language and way of life continues. The remnants of the Cultural Revolution are present even today in the form of various policies and campaigns launched one after another by the Chinese government.
"Through campaigns such as 'Strike Hard' and 'Patriotic Re-education' the government maintains a chokehold on religious institutions; requiring recognition of all reincarnate tulkus or lamas to be apprised by Beijing, and forcing Tibetans to denounce His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Even today, decades after the Cultural Revolution, Beijing's hardline policies have led to executions, destruction of religious institutions, political indoctrination, expulsion of monks and nuns, imprisonment, banning of religious ceremonies, restricting the number of monks in monasteries and enforcing loyalty to the party."
The inauguration of the exhibition was graced by chief guest Kalon Karma Gelek Yuthok of the Department of Religion and Culture, and other guests including Mr Sonam Norbu Dagpo, Secretary, DIIR, Mr Thubten Samphel, Director of Tibet Policy Institute, Additional Secretary and Joint Secretary of DIIR, Central Tibetan Administration.