16/12/2019

Chinese government cadres take over Tibetan monasteries

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A number of Tibetan monasteries in Nagchu (Chinese: Naqu) Prefecture’s Diru County in Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) have been forced to hand over the entire administration and management of the monasteries to groups of cadres sent by the Chinese government.

Around the end of February 2012, the ‘work teams’ with over five members each visited Taklung Monastery and Choelung Monastery and held meetings. At these meetings, the officials decided to transfer all rights and authority of the monasteries to the Chinese government, sources told TCHRD. The ‘work teams’ also documented details of the monasteries’ assets including all antique pieces and ordered the monastery officials not to make any transaction without official approval.

These monasteries were privately-built and –run by the local monks. Many older monks had worked in the past raising money for the revival of these monasteries.

Monks Protest

The ‘work teams’ also organized ‘patriotic re-education’ sessions provoking some monks to boldly ask the officials whether the government’s public avowal of granting religious freedom was contradictory to forced ‘re-education’ sessions, according to sources.

Fed up with ‘patriotic re-education’ classes and constant questionings over whether they or someone they knew had links with Tibetans living in exile or if there were any former monks of the monasteries now living in India, the monks voluntarily decided to leave the monastery after the forced takeover of their monasteries by the Chinese government.

Tibetans March to Township Office

At the township government office in Markhug village, the work team officials later issued an order stipulating a one-month period for the monks to realize their mistakes and return to their monasteries failing which the officials would use other methods.

This order was issued after mass verbal petitionings by local Tibetans who had marched to the township office and urged the ‘work teams’ stationed there to let the monks return to avoid possible closure of monasteries. The Tibetans said they feared there wouldn’t be any monks left to conduct religious rites and rituals intrinsically important to the practice of their faith. Many feared without the monks, even the dead could not be cremated with necessary rites and rituals.

Monasteries Closed After Mass Boycott

Monasteries such as Pekar, Drong-na, Rabten, and Roggyen had to be closed down after monks staged mass boycott leaving the monasteries empty. In these monasteries, government officials held many ‘re-education’ sessions and attempted to hoist Chinese national flags.

Meanwhile, the local officials have ordered heads of ‘neighborhood committees’ to monitor goings-on in every neighborhood in the county. Under this order, no family can shelter monks or monks who had left their monasteries in protest. And if a family gets information on such monks, they are required to inform the officials.

Tibetan Official Sacked

The village headman of Layok village in Diru County, Mr Soegyam, a Tibetan, was fired after he refused to carry out the order of forcing monks to return, according to sources. Mr Soegyam told the officials that the monks did not want to live under constant suffering and surveillance.

According to information received by TCHRD, over 13 officials in Tibet have been sacked since December 2011 for not enforcing the strict new security guidelines in Tibet. On 1 December 2011, the TAR government issued an 18-point regulation that provides directives for handling and managing those cadres who fail to maintain ‘stability’ in Tibet. The heart of the regulation states that cadres who fail to strictly enforce the new security guidelines will face instant demotion followed by prosecution and eventual punishment.

At a meeting in Layok village, the local Tibetans again challenged the ‘work team’ officials complaining about the absence of any monks to carry out religious rituals following the closure of monasteries in the area. The officials in turn asked the Tibetans to handover the ritual money so that they, the officials, could perform the rituals.

Following the meeting which witnessed heated exchanges between the Tibetans and the officials, a group of Tibetans later approached the township office and left a dead body with Chinese Yuan 3,000 so the officials could observe the rituals for the dead person.

There is no information about the current situation in the area as phone lines are not working, sources informed TCHRD.