(TibetanReview.net, Jan11’22) – Apart from demolishing a 99-foot Buddha statue in Draggo (Chinese: Luhuo) County of Kham Tibetan prefecture in Kardze (Ganzi), which is now part of China’s Sichuan Province, carried out from Dec 12 onwards, a three-storey Maitreya Buddha statue was also reduced to rubbles which was less than a kilometre away, said the Tibetan Service of rfa.org Jan 10, confirming a previous report by London-based freetibet.org Jan 6. With them also went 45 giant prayer wheels, with the local Tibetans having reportedly been forced to watch the unabashed attacks on their religion and culture under President Xi Jinping’s renewed so-called Sinicization campaign.
The statue of Maitreya, the coming Buddha, is traditionally built in large form. In Draggo it was located within the Gaden Namgyal Ling Monastery complex.
The destruction of the giant statues was stated to have begun on Dc 12 and continued for the next nine days. Monks from the local monasteries and other Tibetans living in nearby towns were forced to watch the demolition work being carried out.
Chinese authorities were later reported to have arrested and severely beaten 11 monks for sending out information about the destruction they were forced to watch. Lay Tibetans were also punished with being forced to stand out in the freezing cold winter for protesting or otherwise being perceived to be not appreciative of the demolition work being carried out.
The 99-foot, 40 million Yuan (6.3 million USD) Buddha statue was destroyed for allegedly being too tall, despite the fact that it was built, and inaugurated in 2015, with the local authorities’ permission.
In the case of the Maitreya Buddha statue, the implausible pretext was stated to be that the temple housing it had no fire escape. The local source who has spoken to rfa.org about it, has called this and other grounds cited by the Chinese authorities “unbelievable reasons”.
Draggo county chief (apparently the party secretary) Wang Dongsheng was stated to be present at both the sites of the statues’ destruction and to have witnessed the brutal police beating of local Tibetans objecting to the demolition of the Maitreya statue.
In particular, a woman named Lhamo Yangkyi was tortured in detention, with cold water poured over her while also being beaten at the detention centre, freetibet.org cited sources as saying.
Wang was earlier stated to have overseen the campaign of destruction of the sprawling Larung Gar Buddhist Academy, also located in a Tibetan area of Sichuan Province, which saw thousands of monks and nuns expelled and their residences demolished.
“The brutal attacks on Tibetans still continue in Draggo, and sources in Tibet say they have seen Wang Dongsheng taking part in these activities,” the report quoted an exile Tibetan source with local contacts as saying.