Friday, 31 March 2017 11:06
By: Staff Writer, Outlook Tibet
(New York) – Chinese authorities should halt the expulsion and political re-education of monks and nuns from a major Tibetan religious institution, Human Rights Watch said today.
Halt ‘Re-education,’ Humiliation of Monks, Nuns
According to a statement by an abbot of the institution, Chinese officials announced on March 12, 2017, that 3,225 homes at Larung Gar, the world’s largest Tibetan Buddhist institution, would be torn down by April 30.
Many of the monks and nuns already expelled from Larung Gar and the nearby religious community at Yachen Gar, both in Tibetan areas of Sichuan province, have been forced to return to the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and subjected to exceptional restrictions on their liberty and to degrading treatment. In November 2016, the authorities forced at least one group to undergo political re-education and apparent public humiliation in Nyingtri (Linzhi in Chinese), in southeastern TAR.
“China is aggressively dismantling religious freedom along with religious life at Larung Gar by subjecting many expelled monks and nuns to forced re-education,” said Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch. “The restrictions imposed on former residents should be removed so they can exercise fully their rights to religious practice, including freely joining religious institutions and observing religious rituals.”
A senior abbot said in a speech to the community on March 23 that the monks and nuns “who have left had never wanted to leave... And whether or not they had some place to go, they still had to leave.” He added that “the demolitions and expulsions come from the policy of the senior levels of government, and cannot be discussed” and called on all monks and nuns to “show great forbearance and not react with protest, suicide and the like.”
"China is aggressively dismantling religious freedom along with religious life at Larung Gar by subjecting many expelled monks and nuns to forced re-education." Sophie Richardson China Director
Foreign media reported that the TAR authorities subjected 100 monks and nuns, believed to have been expelled from Larung Gar, to political “re-education” in Nyingtri municipality in November. A video circulated on social media shows 25 young Tibetan women with shaven heads, who appear to be nuns, dressed in military jackets and standing in rows inside a police or government office decorated in Tibetan style. The women are chanting in unison, “The Tibetans and the Chinese are daughters of the same mother, the name of the mother is China,” part of a song often used by officials in Tibet to propagate the view that Tibetans are genetically or culturally Chinese. A photograph circulated at the same time shows the same women, dressed in full military fatigues, carrying out a military-style exercise inside a walled compound.
A second video, circulated a few days after the first, shows 12 Tibetan nuns dancing on the stage of a theater in front of what appears to be an audience of officials. The nuns, dressed in religious robes, perform a choreographed dance routine to the song, “The Song of the Emancipated Serfs.” The song is associated with official Communist Party celebrations and was originally performed in front of Chairman Mao Zedong in Beijing in 1959. A banner above the stage reads “Graduation Art Show for the Law and Politics Training Course for Buddhist Monks and Nuns, Kongpo Gyamda County.” Kongpo Gyamda county (Gongbujiangda in Chinese) is in Nyingtri municipality, and the video is believed to have been filmed there on November 10, 2016.