TCHRD has been informed that a 30-ft tall Maitreya Buddha statue in the courtyard of Drango Namgyal Ling Monastery has been destroyed and at least a dozen local Tibetans detained for sharing news of the destruction of a 99-ft Buddha statue that was reported last month in Drango (Ch: Luhuo) County, Kardze (Ch: Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province, in the Tibetan province of Kham.
The deployment of Chinese security personnel in the area was accompanied by phone searches, leading to the detention of Pelga, the monastery’s abbot; Nyima, the administrative head; as well as other unidentified monks from the monastery and lay Tibetans, both men and women, the source told TCHRD on the condition of anonymity.
The detainees were subjected to beatings and other forms of torture, including being made to stand out in the freezing cold. The custodial beatings have caused injury to an eye of an unnamed monk.
The 30-ft Buddha statue was destroyed between 21-22 December 2021, more than a week after the destruction of the 90-ft Buddha statue.
Article 30 of China’s revised Regulation on Religious Affairs (2017) not only requires religious groups, temples and churches to obtain government approval to build large outdoor religious statues but also forbids lay organizations and individuals from constructing such structures outside of temple and church premises.
The 99-ft Buddha statue was built in 2015 with donations collected from local Tibetans whereas the revised regulation came into effect in February 2018. Moreover, the destruction of the 30-ft Buddha statue located inside the monastery compound clearly flouts the stipulations of the regulation.
The Chinese Party-state claims ‘rule of law’ as one of the 12 core values of Socialism with Chinese characteristics, which it promoted at the Party’s 18th National Congress in 2012. But the rules are only formulated to hide its gross human rights violations.
Patriotism or “Love for the country”, another Socialist core value, is at the heart of the Party-state’s hostility towards Tibetan Buddhism and other religions. It is defined by the ruling party’s obsessive need to be loved and its fear of other loyalties such as religion, seen as competing for the hearts and minds of the masses.
TCHRD calls on the Chinese authorities to immediately end its policies and practices of violating freedom of religion or belief, which local Tibetans have likened to the excesses of the Cultural Revolution.
All Tibetans detained unjustly for resisting the destruction of the sacred Buddha statues must be released immediately and unconditionally.
Detention officers responsible for beating and torturing the detainees must be brought to account.
Chinese authorities can never win the hearts and minds of Tibetans by attacking Tibetan culture and religion.