Violations in Monasteries and Sacred Sites

A monk interviewed in early April this year in Dharamsala gave a disturbing account of new incidents of violations of cultural and religious rights in Tibet.

Strike Hard Campaign in …

Monks in Dechen Choekor Monastery at Lho-Gonkhar in Lhoka region have been issued red cards in conjunction with the Strike Hard “Political Re-education” campaign. The red card is given to those who are “patriots” and the blue card to those “splittists” who support Tibetan independence and the leadership of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Monks who have recently joined the monastery are given the blue card.

In Dengechen Monastery in Lhoka Dranak, an eight-member “work team” has been present for three months holding “political re-education” meetings. The Chinese officials would sneak up on the monks outside their rooms and take them to an isolated room for interrogation. There the monks would be asked if the meetings had been fruitful and whether they still supported the “Splittist Government”.

Some monks went to Tsethang City, under Lhoka region, to avoid these interrogations but were immediately called back. Dengechen monks are made to pay 5 yuan rent for their room in the monastery and those who did not satisfy the “Work Teams” would be asked to leave.

Cultural artifacts confiscated:

The source reported two incidents whereby Chinese authorities confiscated sacred and historical items from monasteries. One was that of a century old dagger which had been presented to Dechen Choekor Monastery. The significance attached to the dagger is immense and it is known as “sNe gDong rGyal-poe lHa Gri” (Sacred sword of the ancient monarch of Nethong).

Chinese authorities arrived at the monastery one day under the pretext of a grand official visit and took measurements and pictures of old relics and statues in the monastery. They then took this dagger along with other ancient artifacts The monks were told that the two objects were needed for a museum display and would be returned shortly. After persistent requests, only the other artifacts were returned. The monks did not succeed in retrieving the sword and there is little hope of its return in the future.

The second incident took place in Dengechen Monastery where ancient thankas (sacred scroll hangings) were taken and never returned.

Sacred site desecrated:

Chaksam shor-ri is the name of a mountain in Lhoka Kyinak sub-county. This is a sacred mountain with long-standing religious significance. Believed to hold 108 monasteries, 108 caves, 108 cremation grounds and 108 natural springs, the mountain attracts pilgrims from far away places in Tibet.

On special religious ceremonies, people would come in large numbers for circumambulation. Some would opt for the more difficult path of prostrating around the mountain. On an average this would take about one week.

However, the mountain’s rich mineral resources is marked for mining by the Chinese. The process has already been commenced and a small section of the mountain has been dug out.

The source, gravely concerned, says: “If timely support is not rendered, it won’t be long before this sacred mountain ceases forever to exist. And along with it will end the entire history of such a significant landmark”.

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