Two elderly Tashi Lhunpo monks driven to suicide

27, Jan 23, 2008

Severely victimised, discriminated against and routinely humiliated in other ways, and thereby subjected to all manners of mental torture over many years, following the arrest of their students for involvement in protest actions, two elderly teachers of Tashi Lhunpo Monastery, the traditional seat of the Panchen Lama in Shigatse, have committed suicide within three months of each other last year, reported Radio Free Asia (Washington, DC) Jan 16. Gyaltsen Tsepa Lobsang and Yangpa Locho, both 71, hanged themselves on Sep 8 and Nov 4, respectively.

One of Locho’s students had been arrested after being involved in a protest at the monastery in 1995 over the issue of the recognition of the reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama. Locho himself had a role in the discovery of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima whom the Chinese government kidnapped, with his family, after the Dalai Lama recognized him as the true reincarnation. Tashi Lhunpo is the traditional seat of the Pannchen Lamas.

Locho had moved out of the monastery, to the home of a relative in Shigatse, after the authorities cancelled the publication of Buddhist scriptures made by him. He has travelled to India and hanged himself at the home of the relative.

In the case of Gyaltsen Tsepa Lobsang, two of his students were involved in protest actions against the Chinese government, although it was not clear whether they were arrested for it. Lobsang hanged himself in his bathroom at the monastery.

Both the monks were constantly treated with suspicion and undermined in the assignment of duties, and subjected to all manners of mental torture.

The Panchen Lama reincarnation controversy in 1995 had led to the arrest of the search team’s leader Jadrel Rinpoche, the then abbot of Tashi Lhunpo Monastery, on suspicion that he had communicated the team’s finding to the Dalai Lama, who on May 14 announced Gedhun Choekyi Nyima as the 11th Panchen Lama. Following Jadrel’s arrest, many of the monks who were members of the monastery’s management committee appointed by the 10th Panchen Lama were replaced by new members who complied with the Chinese government dictates.


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