Buddhist school renovated

By Chen Heying Source:Global Times Published: 2016/7/26 0:53:01

Rights, exile groups criticize evictions, demolitions

A local government in the Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Garze, Sichuan Province said it renovated one of the world's largest Buddhist learning centers to prevent fires and to ease crowd levels, in response to criticism from overseas rights and Tibetan exiled groups.

Dismissing accusations that "it is another attempt by China to subvert the influence of Tibetan Buddhism," a senior Garze government official, who requested anonymity, told the Global Times that center leaders want to reduce the number of unregistered monks and nuns; they themselves discourage the unregistered from living there.

"The site has grown immensely in recent years, with a steady influx of tourists and lay people from other provinces and foreigners, that even monastery leaders have lost track of the number of their personnel … It is unfair and a burden on them to use offerings given by local believers to provide free accommodations and education to the unregistered," the official explained.

The London-based Free Tibet, a pro- "Tibet independence" organization, said government workers began dismantling residential buildings and evicting residents of Larung Gar on Thursday, The Associated Press reported Friday. Several Tibetan exiled groups said local authorities ordered in June to cut the number of monks and nuns living there by half to 5,000.

Following a regulation, only the more than 8,000 registered nuns and monks could reside in Larung Gar. If foreigners undergo the monastery's registration procedures, they are also allowed to stay there, the anonymous official noted.

Established in 1980 by Jigme Phuntsok, an eminent monk, the academy attracts Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns for short- and long-term studies, who live in log cabins along the meandering and sprawling mountainside.

The official said dismantling cabins would give firefighters better access to the narrow and winding paths. Several fires have hit the area.

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