Tibetans forced to demolish school attached to monastery in Sichuan’s Karze

Tibetan school officials were forced to hastily demolish a school attached to Drago Monastery in Karze prefecture (Ganzi in Chinese) in western China’s Sichuan province last month, when Chinese authorities accused the temple of violating land use laws, a monk living in southern India told RFA’s Tibetan Service.

The Gaden Rabten Namgyaling, a school administered by Drago Monastery, was condemned in late October by local Chinese authorities, and monastery officials were ordered to demolish the school building in three days or a government team would destroy the building and confiscate school property, including the building materials, said Kalsang Norbu.

School officials and volunteers gathered to hastily take down the school, he said.

Norbu, who shared videos and photos of the demolition received from sources in the region, said the order came late last month and targeted a learning center where local Tibetan students received education in Tibetan culture and religion.

“The land law covers only local residential buildings,” he told RFA, describing the demolition as improper.

Tibetan volunteers led by monastery officials demolish the Gaden Rabten Namgyaling school at Drago Monastery in Karze (Ganzi) in China’s western Sichuan province, in late October. Credit: Kalsang Norbu
Tibetan volunteers led by monastery officials demolish the Gaden Rabten Namgyaling school at Drago Monastery in Karze (Ganzi) in China’s western Sichuan province, in late October. Credit: Kalsang Norbu

With tight restrictions on sharing information in the region the India-based Norbu said he was unable to find out the fate of students, including whether they were  compelled to leave the Drago area. 

The monastery-run Gaden Rabten Namgyaling school was refurbished between 2014 and 2018, he said.

“The Chinese government expelled about 20 monks under the age of 18 during those four years,” said Norbu.  

 Chinese authorities have long sought to restrict the size and influence of Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, traditionally a focus of Tibetan cultural and national identity, sources in the region say.

Translated by Tashi Wangchuk. Written in English by Paul Eckert.

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