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China revokes religious festival permit at famed Tibetan Buddhist academy

A monk stands on a hillside overlooking Larung Gar Buddhist Academy. (Photo courtesy: buddhistdoor.net)
A monk stands on a hillside overlooking Larung Gar Buddhist Academy. (Photo courtesy: buddhistdoor.net)

(TibetanReview.net, Nov03, 2017) – Chinese authorities in Sichuan province have revoked permission and shut down preparations for a major annual prayer gathering at the famed Larung Gar Buddhist Academy in Serta (Chinese: Seda) County of Karze (Ganzi) Prefecture, reported the Tibetan Service of Radio Free Asia (Washington) Nov 1. The academy has only recently seen large-scale demolition of residences of monks and nuns and the expulsion of affected students carried out by the Chinese government. These were designed to reduce its student population from tens of thousands to just 5000 monks and nuns.

The report said permission had initially been granted for holding the religious festival, known as Dechen Shedrub, and preparations were fully underway for its opening on Nov 6.

However, on Oct 29, the local government revoked its permission and announced that the festival was banned.

This is the second year the festival has been banned after the massive crackdown on the academy said to have been ordered directly by Beijing. The festival had continued for 21 years before that.

The local Chinese government was stated to have cited overcrowding by festival participants and unfinished reconstruction work at Larung Gar as reasons for the ban. But “local Tibetans believe the banning of the event is connected to a Chinese policy spurring a broader crackdown on the promotion of Tibetan religion and culture,” the report quoted a local source as saying.

It was earlier announced, and reported by the official Chinese media, on Aug 20, that six ethnic Tibetan members of the Communist Party of China would run the day-to-day management of the academy.

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