China tightens grip on Tibet; orders demolition of religious structures

(Photo: REUTERS / Anindito Mukherjee)A Tibetan exile is detained by a policeman during a protest near the hotel where China's President Xi Jinping is staying, while demonstrating against Xi's visit to India, in New Delhi September 19, 2014. Hundreds of exiled Tibetans, carrying flags and banners, gathered outside the hotel in New Delhi on Friday, where Xi with his wife Peng Liyuan was staying. Police officials reached the spot and detained the demonstrators, who held noisy protests, demanding Free Tibet.

Chinese officials have ordered the demolition of newly built religious structures and the expulsion of young monks from monasteries according to a radio report.

The move is said to be part of a campaign to impose stiffer restrictions on Buddhist monastic life in a restive county of Tibet.

Citing information from a source who requested anonymity, Radio Free Asia reported that the so-called "rectification and cleansing" campaign in Driru county in the Nagchu prefecture began on September 20.

It said the action in the Tibet Autonomous Region began will continue until October 20.

In the eyes of Beijing, Driru is one of the three "politically unstable" counties in Tibet's eastern Nagchu prefecture said RFA.

The residents there staunchly resist forced displays of loyalty to China, which has imposed tight restrictions in the area, including suppression in communication, according RFA.

Chinese officials are said to be worried that political unrest may escalate to other parts of the region if left unchecked.

The report said Beijing's new campaign was detailed in a 30-page document supposedly being dispensed door-to-door by government workers in all the monasteries and villages in Driru.

"All new stupas, mounds of mani stones (stones displaying carved mantras), and shrines built after 2010 have been declared illegal and must be destroyed by a specified deadline," RFA quoted its source as saying.

"If they do not comply, the government will do it for them," he said.

The demolition order also included retreat facilities built after November 1, 2011, including houses for "individual retreatants," said the report.


RFA further quoted its source as saying that monks aged 12 and below have been barred from enrolling in Driru-area monasteries and those currently enrolled should return to their family homes by October 20 or they shall be expelled.

Chinese authorities have also threatened to lodge criminal charges against monastic leaders who will fail to abide by the deadline, the source noted.

Monks and nuns who hold out on directives to fly the Chinese flag from their houses or to prominently display photos of Chinese leaders will also be expelled from the monastic community, the source was quoted as saying.

"They are also forbidden from keeping photos of the Dalai Lama, and if these are found in their possession they will be 're-educated' and deprived of the State benefits provided for monks and nuns by Chinese policy," said the source.

Since a crackdown in September last year, when Beijing launched its campaign to compel Tibetans to fly the Chinese national flag from their homes, roughly a thousand Driru-area Tibetans have been sent to jail, according to RFA.

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