(TibetanReview.net, Jul02’19) – After carrying out a further expulsion campaign, China has now set the upper limit for the number of resident monks and nuns at the Yachen Gar Tibetan Buddhist Centre in what is now part of Sichuan province at 4,700, a steep cut from around 10,000 monks, nuns and lay practitioners at one time, reported the Tibetan Service of rfa.org Jul 1. Those expelled under the latest campaign, which began in May, number around 3,500 monks and nuns, and are undergoing political re-education, the report added.
The basis for the expulsion is the Chinese government’s localization policy of allowing only local people to enroll in monasteries. In the case of Yachen Gar, located in Palyul (Chinese: Baiyu) County of Kardze (Ganzi) prefecture, a temporary exception has reportedly been made in the case of those from Yulshul (Yushu) prefecture of Qinghai Province on condition that authorities in their home areas provide assurances that they will not take part in political activities.
So, those expelled in the latest round are said to mostly monks and nuns from Jomda (Jiangda) and Palbar (Bianba) counties in Chamdo (Changdu) prefecture of Tibet Autonomous Region.
County and city authorities in Chamdo are reported to have set up political re-education detention centres for the returned monks and nuns, with no prospect for them of being able to join any monastery or nunnery, as the case may be, at the end of it.
“As soon as they are brought to the detention centres, their cell phones are confiscated, rendering them incommunicado with the outside,” the reported quoted an unnamed local source as saying.
“The monks and nuns are forced to wear the clothes of laypersons at the detention centre and the Chinese authorities make them denounce the Dalai Lama on a daily basis, as well as memorize political propaganda, which they are later tested on,” the report quoted another unnamed local source as saying.
“Seventy monks and nuns are being held in Jomda and are undergoing thorough political re-education” after being summoned by police upon their return to their hometowns. The first source believed that given Jomda’s limited capacity, many of the returned monks and nuns may have been sent to political re-education detention centres in Chamdo City.
The report further quoted the second source as saying: “These monks and nuns could be held for political re-education for another several months before they are released to their families. After that, they will be restricted from re-enrolling with any other monasteries or relocating elsewhere.”
At Yachen Gar itself, China is said to have posted around 600 Chinese officials to “maintain a tight watch” over resident monks and nuns and to check visitors.
The clampdown on Yachen Gar and the better-known Larung Gar complex in Sichuan’s Serta (Seda) County are seen as part of a political strategy aimed at controlling the influence and growth of these important centres of Tibetan Buddhist study and practice.
Over 2017-2018, at least 4,820 Tibetan and Chinese monks and nuns were removed from Larung Gar, with over 7,000 dwellings and other structures torn down beginning in 2001, the report cited sources in the region as saying.