(TibetanReview.net, Aug03’21) – In a continuing campaign by Beijing to eliminate the presence and influence of Tibetan Buddhism in other parts of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), authorities in the northwestern province of Gansu have forcibly shut down a Tibetan monastery in the Linxia Hui Autonomous Prefecture, using force to evict its resident monks and nuns, reported the Chinese service of rfa.org Aug 2.
The report said videos of the incident show monks at Hongcheng Monastery, also known as the Yulingta Monastery, holding up banners that read “Forcible defrocking of monks is illegal and unacceptable!” and other protest slogans.
Monks were also reportedly seen sitting on the roof of the monastery shouting down at a group of unidentified people on the ground.
The report also said nuns wailed in mourning at being made to leave, while others shouted “Stop this! Stop this!” and “Film everything! Let’s jump!”
An employee who answered the phone at the Yongjing county ethnic minority and religious affairs bureau was reported to have declined to comment when contacted by RFA on Aug 2.
However, the employee has said Director Cui of the monastery management committee was responsible for “resettling” the monks and nuns but he would not pick up the phone or his mobile when contacted.
The report cited US-based commentator Ma Ju, who had been following the incident, as saying many monks were detained during the eviction.
He has also said Hongcheng likely won’t be the last monastery to be targeted.
“They are getting ready to eliminate all Tibetan temples and monasteries within the majority Han Chinese area of China,” Ma has said. “This is one of their policies.”
The move was seen as likely to be linked to a recent visit by the Chinese Communist Party’s Panchen Lama, who said Tibetan Buddhism must not be used as a tool for “hostile foreign forces” to undermine CCP rule.
Online comments have been cited as saying local officials were likely interested in the monastery’s wealth, as it had received a surge in donations during the coronavirus pandemic.
A Gansu-based historian surnamed Gao has said the move was in line the CCP’s campaign of church demolitions and cross removal.
“Now they are targeting Tibetan Buddhism, forcibly defrocking monks and nuns,” Gao has said. “There is a fundamental lack of respect.”
The report noted that The Hongcheng Monastery was already destroyed once in 1958, before reconstruction began under President Hu Jintao in 2011 using donations gathered by Gentsong Rinpoche, a religious leader.
On a previous occasion, the local government was stated to have forced the monastery to share its income equally with it after nothing came up on an investigation to find out how the latter had reportedly become so wealthy.