(TibetanReview.net, Aug12, 2016) – The US government has on Aug 8 urged China not to infringe on the right of Tibetans to practice their religion freely, responding to reports that massive demolition was being carried out at a famed, and probably the world’s largest, centre for the study of Tibetan Buddhism. Under orders reportedly from Beijing, the government of Serta (Chinese: Seda) County in Karze (Ganzi or Garze) Prefecture of Sichuan Province launched the demolition drive on Jul 20 with the aim to halve its size and student population to around 5,000 by next year or so.
We … are concerned that Chinese authorities initiated the demolition of residences at Larung Gar Tibetan Buddhist Institute without the consent of the institute’s leaders,” State Department Spokesperson Elizabeth Trudeau has said at a Daily Press Briefing.
She has further said, “We urge authorities to cease actions that may escalate tensions and to pursue forthright consultations with the institute’s leaders to address any safety concerns in a way that does not infringe on the right of Tibetans to practice their religion freely.”
Under severe pressure from the Chinese authorities, the leadership of the institute has urged monks and nuns not to oppose, protest, or publicize the demolition drive for the sake of the survival of the institute itself. However, a student-nun named Rinzin Wangmo, unable to live with the pain of the demolition, committed suicide by hanging herself on the day the drive was launched.
China has claimed that it was only “renovating” the institute while deploying armed security forces at the site of the demolition and in neighbouring counties to put down any possible resistance to the drive. The authorities were reported to have threatened to close down the institute if it opposed the demolition drive.