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Expelled Larung Gar nuns held in camp in Kardze

December 12, 2016

Radio Free Asia, December 9, 2016 - Hundreds of Tibetan nuns expelled by China from Sichuan’s Larung Gar Buddhist Academy are being housed in a desolate camp of concrete huts set up in Kardze prefecture, Tibetan sources say.

The camp, now holding more than 800 nuns, was built by Chinese authorities near Ahkyab village in Kardze (in Chinese, Ganzi), a local source told RFA’s Tibetan Service.

“The nuns began moving into this new facility on Dec. 1 and have been put into 700 metal-roofed houses, with one to two nuns living in each two-storey house,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“This is a temporary camp for the nuns expelled from Larung Gar who came originally from Kardze,” he said.

Many thousands of Tibetans and Han Chinese once studied at the sprawling Larung Gar complex, which was founded in 1980 by the late religious teacher Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok and is one of the world’s largest and most important centers for the study of Tibetan Buddhism.

Now, some 9,000 people have been expelled from the makeshift dwellings that once lined the hillsides around the monastery in Serthar (Seda) county, local sources told RFA in earlier reports.

“The demolition still continues, and so does the expulsion of nuns,” RFA’s source said.

“It is said that from 600 to 1,000 houses in the Tashi Lung valley of the Serthar complex will be torn down soon,” he said.

Signs of change

Exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama meanwhile spoke for the second time this week to Tibetan pilgrims traveling in India but ordered home by China.

“Tibetans living in Tibet have suffered now for almost three to four generations under Chinese rule,” the Dalai Lama told the group on Dec. 6, adding, “But under China’s ruthless rule, the Tibetan people have only grown stronger and more united.”

China itself will someday change, and there are now growing signs of support among Chinese intellectuals for policies promoting greater autonomy for Tibet, the Dalai Lama said.

This kind of support has been difficult to measure, though, Columbia University Tibet expert Robbie Barnett told RFA.

“We know that there are some scholars in China who have called publicly for talks or contact with the Dalai Lama, but I think their number is quite small, and they are considered unusually bold,” Barnett said.

“However, there are numerous reports of Chinese, especially from the wealthier classes, becoming very committed followers of Tibetan lamas and donating large sums of money to them, including several hundred who have attended the Dalai Lama’s teachings in India each year.”

“That may translate in some cases to open support for his policies,” Barnett said.

Reported by Kunsang Tenzin for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English with additional reporting by Richard Finney.

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