By Tenzin Dharpo
Demolished dwellings and meditation huts in the nuns’ quarter at Yachen Gar in the fall 2016. PC- ICT
DHARAMSHALA, July 16: The massive eviction and demolition drive by Chinese government at the centuries old Buddhist learning center Yachen Gar in occupied Tibet’s eastern region is followed by further clamp downs as Chinese authorities impose strict travel restrictions, station check points and fly drones.
Chinese authorities have issued a temporary travel permit allowing travel to and from Yachen Gar only for those residents allowed to remain, Radio Free Asia
reported. “A large checkpoint has been set up at the outskirts of Yachen Gar and is staffed by police around the clock to make sure that anyone traveling back and forth has the permit in their possession,” an anonymous source cited by RFA said.
The same source also said that another checkpoint closer to Yachen Gar also checks for travel permits and that Chinese authorities have also put up surveillance cameras, drones and even internet surveillance to keep watch in the area and restrict information about the happenings in the once flourishing Buddhist monastic university.
Beginning May this year, Yachen Gar, located in Pelyul County in Sichuan saw the removal of about 3,500 monks and nuns by Chinese authorities to curtail the growing influence of the centre that also hosts many Chinese practitioners. These monastics are now held for political re-education classes in Jomda (in Chinese, Jiangda) county in the Tibet Autonomous Region’s Chamdo (Chengdu) prefecture.
Yachen Gar and the Larung Gar situated in Serthar County in the Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Sichuan Province have come under intense Chinese government assault that transpired through eviction of students and residents there, as well as demolition of thousands of dwellings under the guise of safety norms and development since early as July 2016. In addition, six local party members have also been appointed to key management and supervisory positions at Larung Gar.
London based NGO Free Tibet in October 2017 released satellite images showing a much-reduced Larung Gar, following the demolition drive initiated by the Chinese authorities in July 2016. Images taken by US-based satellite specialists Apollo Mapping show drastic change with the latest image showing only miniscule remains of once the largest and most important Tibetan Buddhist center housing over 10,000 students.
Following the forceful eviction of students and demolition of Larung Gar since mid 2016, the once sprawling Buddhist learning center boasting over 10,000 students as of May 2017 has been reduced by 4828 monks and nuns, with 4725 houses flattened to the ground.