By Phuntsok Yangchen
DHARAMSHALA, October 9: In a move to further escalate restrictions on monastic life in Tibet, Chinese authorities in Driru County have ordered destruction of religious buildings and expel young monks from monasteries, often seen as hotbed for anti-government protests.
According to the Radio Free Asia, a month-long “Rectification and Cleansing” campaign was launched in Driru County in Nagchu prefecture on September 20, and a 30-page document containing detailed instructions on the campaign is being distributed in all the monasteries and villages in Driru.
“All new stupas, mounds of mani stones [stones displaying carved mantras], and shrines built after 2010 have been declared illegal and must be destroyed by a specified deadline,” RFA cited a source as saying.
The Chinese authorities also commanded that those who have originally built all religious structures must take them down, failing which the government would bring them down.
“It has also been ordered that retreat facilities built after Nov. 1, 2011, including houses for individual retreatants, must be torn down,” the source said.
It was also ordered that all the monks aged 12 and below be denied admission in monasteries and those currently enrolled in the monasteres must return to their families by October 20 or face forced expulsion. The authorities warned that the senior lamas of the monasteries will be held criminally responsible if any monk aged 12 or below didn’t return to their respective homes by the deadline.
The family members of the younger monks were also warned that if they refuse to take their children back they may face six months’ detention or one to three years of prison term.
The situation in Driru has remained tense since September last year with several arrests of Tibetans who had defied Chinese authorities’ order to fly the Chinese national flag on their houses weeks before Chinese national day celebrations last year.
In June, Chinese authorities in Driru have also issued a handbook of new laws titled “Two laws by People’s government of Driru County” (Driru Dzong Mimang Sishung gi Tenbeb Khag Ni) featuring new set of rules and punishments to avoid Tibetans from protesting against the Chinese government.