Chinese order Tibetan monks, nuns to leave Buddhist institutes

(Photo: REUTERS / China Daily)Tibetan Buddhists and tourists view a huge Thangka, a religious silk embroidery or painting displaying a Buddha portrait, during the Shoton Festival at Zhaibung Monastery in Lhasa, capital of southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, August 25, 2014.

Officials in a Tibetan county have told residents to ask family members who are monks and nuns studying in monasteries and Buddhist institutes in western Chinese provinces to immediately return home, says a radio report.

Citing anonymous sources Radio Free Asia said the order in Jiangda county, Chandu prefecture may be part of China's campaign to stifle religious leaders' political resistance in areas of the Tibet Autonomous Region.

Those families who fail to abide by the order will face sanctions as well as lose all forms of government assistance, according to the report on October 24.

"Families living in villages in [Jiangda] must now send messages as soon as possible requiring the return of family members who are monks and nuns studying in monasteries or Buddhist institutes in Qinghai and Sichuan [Chinese provinces]," the report quoted a source as saying.

Monks and nuns who failed to come home will have their names stricken from county family registration lists, according to the source.

"Their [State-issued] identification cards will also be made invalid, and any government assistance of whatever kind or amount provided to their families will be withdrawn," he said,

As part of the alleged campaign, Chinese authorities will start verifying IDs of monks and nuns from Jiangda and will check to see if monasteries maintain the official ceiling on the number of monks and nuns allowed to be enrolled.

Officials will also make sure that no monk or nun is younger than 18 years old, said RFA.

"Government workers claimed that the order had come from [China's] central government and must be obeyed, with consequences spelled out for noncompliance," RFA quoted the source as saying.

The monks and nuns were recalled from major Buddhist study centers such as those in Larung Gar in in Sichuan's Serthar (Seda) county and Yachen Gar in Sichuan's Palyul (Baiyu) county, both in the Kardze (Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, said the report.

Issued at a county-wide meeting held early October, the recall order was similar to the one issued in Driru county in the Nangchu prefecture late September.

This directed the demolition of newly built religious structures and the expulsion of young monks from monasteries.

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