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13th Dalai Lama's Home Demolished

June 23, 2011


Chinese authorities reject family appeals to protect an historic site.

RFA listener

A backhoe demolishes the former family home of the 13th Dalai Lama, south of Lhasa, Tibet, June 10, 2011.

Chinese authorities have demolished the century-old Langdun family residence of Tibet’s 13th Dalai Lama despite appeals to protect the heritage site, a Tibetan source close to the Langdun family said.

The house of Thupten Gyatso, predecessor to the current Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader of Tibet, was situated close to the Kyichu river, south of Lhasa, capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region.

It was located in an area controlled by the Lhasa Military Center and was declared a "historic structure to be protected," said the source, who lives in Tibet.

He said that demolition of the house began on June 10.

“This historic house about 100 years old with ties to the 13th Dalai Lama was demolished within a short time,” he added.

The 13th Dalai Lama, often referred to by Tibetans as the “Great 13th,” was born to a peasant couple in Dakpo in southern Tibet.

“Family members of the Langdun household appealed to the Lhasa city government to protect [the residence] from demolition, but they were disappointed," the source said.

"City authorities explained that they were helpless [in cases] when a house is located in the area controlled by Lhasa Military Center.”

Authorities tightlipped

The 13th Dalai Lama photographed in Calcutta, India in 1910. Credit: Wikipedia
Contacted for details of the demolition, a female official of the Lhasa Military Center said, "I am sorry, I don’t know about it.”

Thupten Gyatso was recognized by Tibetan religious authorities as the reincarnation of the 12th Dalai Lama in 1877.

The 13th Dalai Lama ruled Tibet during a British invasion of the country in 1904 and a Chinese invasion in 1909/10, but survived both experiences with his authority enormously enhanced, according to the website of the current Dalai Lama.

He later predicted China’s 1950 invasion of Tibet and died at the age of 57 in December 1933 after urging modernization of the Tibetan Army.

The current Dalai Lama, who fled to India after a failed 1959 national uprising against Chinese occupation, has been the face and symbol of the Tibetan freedom struggle for more than five decades.

Reported by Yangdon Demo for RFA's Tibetan service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Parameswaran Ponnudurai and Richard Finney.


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