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600 buildings demolished at Larung Gar Buddhist Institute despite international outcry

August 1, 2016

Phayul, July 30, 2016 - The pace of demolition at one of Tibet’s biggest Buddhist institutions at Serthar County in Eastern Tibet is feared to be far graver than earlier expected with more than 600 structures leveled since the Chinese government led operations began last Wednesday.

Chinese workers are demolishing nearly 100 to 250 houses in a day, according to reports. The monastic leaders have instructed monks and lay practitioners not to protest or resist. With many dwellings already flattened to ground, the number of people affected is rising steadily. In the past six days, an estimated 600 dwellings have been torn down, with no sign that this will stop any time soon. Nuns whose living quarters have been destroyed are now staying temporarily with other residents of the institute who have not yet been affected. This means that some dwellings are now holding as many as 15 people each,” a local source told Radio Free Asia.

Although no incident of protest or confrontation has been reported, local authorities are not taking any chances with official Chinese directives to keep a troop of 500 personnel on hold at nearby Draggo County, Tawu County and Kardze County. Armed security guards have been deployed at separate sites in Larung Gar where demolition work is underway.

Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy earlier mentioned that an eight-point document was issued by the Chinese authorities that gave step-by-step guide to demolishing dwellings of thousands of monks, nuns and lay practitioners and their expulsion, in view to curb the number of residents to government-set ceiling of 5000.

“A four-page demolition order requires relevant departments including the management and administrative bodies of Larung Gar to reduce the number of residents to 5000 before 30 September 2017,” the rights group announced earlier this month, while explicitly naming authoritative bodies such as Prefecture Public Security Bureau, Prefecture Civil Affairs Department, Prefecture National Security Department, and Serthar County Government who will undertake the task.

The gradual process of reducing the strength of the institute founded by late Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok that once boasted around 10,000 students, including Han Chinese, to half could be a preventive measure since Beijing consider the center a hub for those who disseminate information to ‘exile separatist forces.’

The year 2001 saw the dismantling of Serthar Institute. Over 8,000 students were evicted forcibly from the institute and approximately 2,000 dwellings of monks and nuns were demolished that year.

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