Write to the Chinese authorities
Larung Gar is at risk, with planned demolitions and forced removals set to cause significant damage to the site. The previous round of demolitions and removals in July created widespread damage and caused distress to Tibetans across the country.
The planned removals and demolitions at Larung Gar are being overseen at every stage by the United Front Work Department. This department, part of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), oversees CCP policy on other political parties and ethnic and religious groups. It has its own bureau to oversee policy in Tibet.
Add your name to our message to the United Front Work Department below, calling on them to bring these planned demolitions and removals to an immediate halt, and allow Tibetans to determine how their monasteries are run. Every week we will send this message, in Chinese, to the department, along with the list of people that signed that week.
To: Sun Chunlan, Head of the United Front Work Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China
Dear Sun Chunlan,
We are writing to request that you halt the demolitions and removals scheduled to take place at Larung Gar Buddhist Academy in Sertar County, Sichuan Province. We are concerned that these demolitions and forced removals constitute a violation of international and Chinese laws on the right to religious freedom and are causing significant distress to Tibetans and damage to their culture.
As you know, an order issued by the authorities in Sertar County in June this year requires that the population of Larung Gar is cut in half, from 10,000 to 5,000 residents, by October 2017. It also requires that quarters belonging to residents that have been removed should be demolished, and threatens punishments if the plan falls behind schedule, including punitive removals and even the demolition of Larung Gar in its entirety. The order also requires the authorities at Larung Gar to accept joint management with Chinese Communist Party officials, who would form the majority of the monastery’s leadership.
The next round of demolitions and the removal of 1,200 residents is scheduled to be completed by October 2016. Demolitions that were carried out in July caused widespread distress, both to the residents of Larung Gar and to Tibet’s wider population.
The residents of Larung Gar were not consulted before the order was issued, and were not given any reason for the planned demolitions. Explanations given later by authorities, that the demolitions were required in order to reduce overcrowding, do not take restrictions that prevent Tibetans from building new monasteries into consideration.
These plans represent an intolerable imposition of state control on Larung Gar, and fit a wider pattern of tight control over Tibet’s religious institutions. The maintenance and control of Tibet’s religious institutions should be in the hands of the residents and leadership of these institutions.
Article 36 of the Chinese Constitution allows for all citizens of the People’s Republic of China to enjoy freedom of religious belief, with no discrimination or compulsion from any state organ. As a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, China is required to uphold the spirit of this treaty, Article 18.2 of which requires that no one shall be subject to coercion that would impair their freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of their choice.
The United Front Work Department is due to oversee every stage of the planned demolitions. We urge you, as head of the department, to:
- Immediately halt all further planned demolitions and removals at Larung Gar.
- Halt plans to force Larung Gar’s leadership to submit to joint control with CCP authorities and instead allow Tibetan Buddhists to run their own religious institutions.
- Address any concerns of overcrowding at Larung Gar by permitting Tibetan Buddhists to build new monasteries across Tibet.