News and Views on Tibet

China imposes lockdown on seven monasteries in Kham Dege

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Wontod Monastery in eastern Tibet's Kham Dege (Photo/X)

By Tenzin Nyidon 

DHARAMSHALA, Mar 1: Chinese authorities have imposed lockdown on seven monasteries situated along the two banks of eastern Tibet’s Drichu River in Kham Dege, reported Radio Free Asia, which cited a local Tibetan source from the region.

The seven monasteries restricted by the lockdown, include Wontod, Yena, and Khardho monasteries on the east bank of the river in Dege, and Rabten, Gonsar, Tashi, and Pharok monasteries on the west bank of the so-called Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR). Entry and exit in these monasteries have been severely restricted, with clamp down on movement and communication channels in the county.

Over February 22-23, more than 1,000 monks and local Tibetans were reportedly arrested following petitions and protests since February 14, urging authorities to halt a proposed construction of a massive dam project. While approximately 40 monks were released on February 26 and 27, the majority remain under arrest, undergoing brutal treatment.

The released individuals were primarily from Wontod Monastery, as reported by local Tibetan sources. These individuals have reportedly been warned against communicating with exile Tibetans and giving out information on the incident. Sources suggest that international media coverage of the mass arrests played a significant role in prompting the release of some Tibetans. Monks who required hospitalisation due to severe interrogation beatings were allowed to return to their monastery. 

The construction of the Chinese Gangtuo Hydropower Station, planned for the upper reaches of the Drichu River in Tibet, poses grave threat to numerous Tibetan monasteries and villages nearby. This cascade hydropower station, deemed a “leading” project, endangers at least six Tibetan monasteries and two villages inhabited by Tibetan communities. Among those at risk of complete submersion due to the project is Wontod Monastery, established in the 14th century and known for its historical importance and remarkable Tibetan Buddhist murals and artworks.

One Response

  1. Tibetans have become slaves under Chinese communist rule! They have no rights whatsoever including the right to live in their ancestral home! When marauding Chinese communist thugs rampaged through the gates of the monasteries, the poor abbot of the monastery threw himself on the ground to plead the communist authorities to spare the destruction of his beloved monastery. The lay people and other monks followed suit crying their eyes out to plead the cruel and vicious Chinese communist bandits to allow them to live their lives in the land where they were born and which has been their home for generations. They stooped low to the communist thugs and held their thumbs up in the manner of Tibetan traditional begging symbol. However, the irreligious and heathen communists walked over the abbot and the begging Tibetans without so much as even talking to them as if they didn’t even exist! This is the state of affairs in occupied Tibet where Tibetans are made to feel they are strangers in their own country by a violent foreign invader and occupier! They are so arrogant to ignore the abbot and the public as to not even spare a thought to talk and show some respect to them to explain the official version of the plans in a civilised manner! The Chinese communists have no respect for the people Tibet! They treat Tibetans with absolute contempt! Instead of listening to the pleas of the desperate pleading Tibetans, they arrested and beat them! What wrong have they done to deserve such harsh beatings that landed them in hospitals? THE TIBETANS DIDN’T PROTEST AS SOME CLAIMED IN THE PRESS. NO, THEY ONLY PLEADED FOR MERCY BY SHOWING THEIR THUMBS IN THE AIR!
    THE TIBETANS HAVE NOT BROKEN ANY LAW SO WHY WERE THEY BEATEN SO VICIOUSLY? The Chinese communists now treat Tibetans exactly like the white slave owners treated the black slaves in America in the 1800s. TIBET AND ITS PEOPLE ARE ENSLAVED BY COMMUNIST CHINA FOR THE LAST 65 YEARS. The Chinese are plundering Tibet’s rich resources! The hydro electricity dam is one such project to divert electricity to China for the benefit of the Chinese population while the real custodians of the resources are treated like slaves and punished for pleading to stop them BEING EVICTED FROM THEIR ANCESTRAL HOME LAND WHERE THEY HAVE LIVED THEIR LIVES FOR CENTURIES WITH THEIR CULTURAL ROOTS DEEPLY ENTRENCHED WITH THEIR BELOVED MONASTERIES. Unlike the heathen Chinese communists who believes only in money and materials, Tibetans are a spiritual people whose life-blood is their Buddhist faith. It has sustained the Tibetan people for centuries and continues to do into the twenty-first century. Unlike the Chinese communists who boasts violence as their trade mark, Tibetans believe in the sacredness of all lives and would not kill a fly!
    The Chinese communist’s final solution for Tibet is to erase the Tibetan people from the face of earth by erasing their history. The dam project outwardly seem like it’s to produce hydroelectricity to the Chinese in China but there could be a more sinister agenda behind the project. The monasteries hold a very important place in the hearts of the Tibetan people and has historically been the hub of Tibetan daily life. All the entertainments were in the monastery such as the famous monk dances (ཆམ) that would last for days when Tibetans from every nook and corner would converge to the local monastery to watch the annual Cham spectacle! It’s a place for solace for the bereaved to talk to the monks for advice and guidance as well as pray to the holy Buddhas enshrined in the monasteries. It is the hearth of every devout Tibetan. There is both respect and endearment of the monks and Lamas as both sangha and saviours and they rely for their service in performing pujas for the sick and diseased in times of need. The lay people can’t do without a monastery in their daily lives! The communists tried to break this unique connection in the 1950s by portraying the monks as “red thieves” རྐུ་མ་དམར་པོ་ and the Lamas as “yellow robbers” ཇག་པ་སེར་པོ་ The communists painted the monks/nun community as exploiting the masses! The Tibetans replied and told the Chinese “they are our children”!
    The six monasteries that will be submerged if the Chinese had their way, are very old monasteries. They are 800 or 900 hundred years old. They were initially Bonpo monasteries and later turned into Nyingma. During the time of Choegyal Phakpa (preceptor of Kublai Khan) who became the first Lama ruler of Tibet turned them into Sakya Monasteries. They have a very long history and have been blessed by numerous yogis and Lamas during their history of existence. So, they are absolutely sacred holy sites to the Tibetan people which cannot be compensated by any amount of money. They are historical icons from a bygone age! I suspect the Chinese communists are deliberately destroying Tibetan historical heritages in order to erase Tibet’s religious and political history. The kings of Dege claim to be the lineage holders of Lonpo Gar Tongtsen (Foremost minister of Songtsen Gampo) who went all the way to the Tang court to bring Princess Wencheng from China to Tibet as the consort of the 33rd Tibetan emperor Songtsen Gampo. He married the Nepalese Princess Birkuti Deva as well, who was the daughter of King Amsuvarma.
    This dam will also destroy the environment for many wild life in the area and deprive the Tibetans of their barley fields which is their staple food. The land is said to be very fertile for growing crops and you can’t afford to let it go under water to serve Chinese people’s interest and leave the indigenous Tibetan people high and dry! This is totally unacceptable! If such a tragedy takes place, the lives of the Tibetans in the area will be totally ruined and the monasteries will not be allowed to be rebuilt except a token one. That’s the plan to disturb and destroy existing Tibetan way of life and like they did to the nomads, they will be sent into ghettos where they will live the rest of their lives in misery and driven to suicide. The monks will be all thrown out like they did in the 1950s when the communists went on a rampage to destroy Tibet’s priceless monasteries and plundered and pillaged and murdered the monks and nuns in the thousands! It’s a repeat of the so called cultural revolution reignited by dictator Xi in his attempt to save the teetering CCP regime from collapse! The region is environmentally fragile. Building massive dams not only destroys the fragile ecosystem and biodiversity but endangers the lives of those down stream in times of flooding as it has happened so many times in China itself. Thousands of Chinese have been killed every year because of the bursting of the dams during heavy rain or water released at night by the Chinese authorities without warning which have inundated houses, roads, streets and carried away even cranes! They have destroyed China through reckless policies of building dams and roads which let no where and bridges which fell down like tofu dregs! Now, they are destroying Tibet, the most pristine nation on earth and its compassionate people living in harmony with nature for centuries! Tibetans must protest the lockdown of the monks as they will be completely cut off from the Tibetan public and will be treated with extremely brutality. They are prisoners without any way of getting out of the Chinese communist dragnet! THEIR LIVES ARE IN DANGER! The communists are known to murder monks in the thousands in the 1950, 60s and 70s. One of their technique in killing is injecting them with poison while pretending to give medical attention! They are fearful of the monks because they have power over the public and this makes them fearful of them. Therefore, locking them up is their attempt to seperate the monks from the public. The monks are the leaders. So, if they are controlled by the CCP by locking them up, they feel, the public will have no courage to challenge the CCP. Remember what Deng said:” To kill a snake, crush its head”. In order to contain the discontent of the people, they are crushing the leaders of the people who are undoubtedly the monks!

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