Authorities in China’s Sichuan Province last month forced Tibetan monks and other local residents to witness the demolition of a large and revered Buddha statue following official complaints that the statue was built. too high, Tibetan sources said.
Destroyed along with the 99-foot-tall statue in Drago County (Chinese, Luhuo) in the Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Kardze (Ganzi), 45 traditional prayer wheels were installed for the use of Tibetan pilgrims and others faithful, sources said.
Chinese authorities forced monks from Thoesam Gatsel Monastery and Tibetans living in Chuwar and other nearby towns to witness the demolition, which began on December 12 and continued for the next nine days, said Tibetan sources in exile, citing contacts in the region.
“Local Tibetans from other villages were also forced to come and watch the demolition,” said a Tibetan living in India, speaking on condition of anonymity to protect his family members still living in Drago. “Numerous police officers have also been deployed to ensure that bystanders do not take photos or videos or create disturbance.”
“It was like the [1966-76] Cultural revolution, when the Chinese government destroyed everything that was old in Tibet, ”he said.
“In addition to the Buddha statue, the prayer wheels erected near Drago Monastery were also destroyed, and the way they orchestrated this demolition was very disrespectful,” said another Tibetan living in India, speaking. also anonymously in order to protect its sources.
Drago County Chief Wang Dongsheng, Director of Demolition, previously oversaw a campaign of destruction at the sprawling Larung Gar Buddhist Academy in Sichuan.
“Now we are seeing the same kind of destruction here in Drago and the restrictions placed on Tibetans in the region,” he said.
No information has been received on when the destruction was completed, the source said. “But it is a fact that the statue is now almost completely destroyed and local Tibetans were forced to watch these events, with authorities saying it would teach Tibetans a lesson.”
With construction completed on October 5, 2015, the Buddha statue in Drago was built with contributions of around 4 million yuan (US $ 629,445) by local Tibetans and was designed to withstand earthquakes, a declared a former resident of Drago named Palden, now living in India.
“And he had the full approval of the local authorities,” Palden said, adding that the Chinese authorities subsequently withdrew their approval and said the statue was built too high.
“But in reality, their intention is to completely destroy the identity of Tibet by eradicating Tibetan religion and culture,” he said.
Translated by Tenzin Dickyi for the Tibetan service of RFA. Written in English by Richard Finney.