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Human Rights Investigators for the United Nations Join to Denounce Chinese Debarment of Tibetans

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Brian Demo ’17

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Buddhist monks and nuns depart from the monastery after prayer at the Larung Gar Institute.

Fred Dufour/AFP

Buddhist monks and nuns depart from the monastery after prayer at the Larung Gar Institute.

Six human rights investigators for the United Nations (UN) came together to condemn China’s expulsion of monks and nuns in two major religious territories in the country’s Sichuan province.

Larung Gar and Yachen Gar make up the pair of enclaves; yet, experts noted that large-scale expulsions transpired in the first area mentioned.

The Chinese government acted without hesitation.  According to reports from Radio Free Asia, work crews entered the Larung Gar Buddhist Academy – a site occupied by roughly 20,000 monks and nuns – and forced many back to the neighboring autonomous region of Tibet.

Homes fell to rubble through demolitions.  While the scene appeared emotionally tear-inducing, Buddhists exercised patience, hoping for the academy’s return to full fruition.  Tolerance and respect for others serve as cornerstones to Buddhism.  Practitioners also adhere to the notions of suffering and impermanence, which ultimately means that life remains in constant change.

The enclave undertook restrained counter-measures.  Monastic leaders urged the academy’s monks and nuns to resist the destruction of their dwellings.  Yet, China’s wreckings went ahead without interference.  Records indicate only one suicide.

Chinese authorities plan to reduce Larung Gar’s residency by over 75%, bringing the area’s population to a maximum of 5,000 people.  The source indicates that decisions regarding this goal derive from higher-powered authorities in the country’s government, such as president Xi Jinping.

The occurrences arise with little revelation, yet they remain concerning for Tibetan Buddhists and human rights groups.  The international community witnessed similar conflicts approximately fifty-seven years ago when Mao Zedong’s troops entered a former-independent Tibet.  After escaping the nation’s most sacred city, Lhasa, the Dalai Lama–a teenager at the time–signed the Seventeen-Point Peace Agreement for the Liberation of Tibet.  The Chinese spared the lives of their neighbors.  In return, Tibet became an autonomous region of China, where the Communist Party can exert leverage if they so choose to.

Very recently, the Chinese government barred an estimated 7,000 Tibetan Buddhists from attending a gathering at Bodh Gaya – the location where the Buddha achieved enlightenment – for celebration and prayer.  The Dalai Lama–now in his elderly years–even made an appearance.  Legislation creates a controversial avenue to impede on such events.

China’s constitution reveals a leashed variation of allowing individuals to express their beliefs.  It lets “citizens enjoy “freedom of religious belief” but limits protections for religious practice to “normal religious activities.””  The Chinese government takes measures to ensure that one’s religion does not generate conflict.

While destruction occurs in Larung Gar, sources in the region say that authorities force evicted monks and nuns to sign documents that forbid them from returning.  Just outside of the area, Chinese buses await to transport people away.  Thousands have already migrated.

A four-member Tibetan delegation of the Department of Information and International Relations (DIIR) and the Office of Tibet traveled to Geneva to carry out a rigorous week-long lobbying process over a series of scores for the UN.  Not long ago, Freedom House’s annual Freedom of the World 2016 report revealed staggering findings.  The document ranked Tibet as the second “Worst of the Worst,” only sitting behind Syria.

The six UN experts sent questions to the regime with topics ranging from housing rights to peaceful assemblies.  Also, they asked for “detailed information of resettlement and compensation plans for those people made homeless or expelled.” 

The UN’s statements stand.  Meanwhile, the PRC remains unresponsive.  Days pass without an official reply and more evictions develop.

 

Additional credit and thanks: This story’s conceptualization derives from Edward Wong’s piece in The New York Times.

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Human Rights Investigators for the United Nations Join to Denounce Chinese Debarment of Tibetans