By Tenzin Dharpo
Congressman Jim McGovern. file
DHARAMSHALA, Feb. 2: U.S. Congressman and a senior House Democrat Jim McGovern on Wednesday raised voice against the Chinese government’s recent move to install over 200 Chinese cadres, effectively replacing personnel at majority of the positions at the Buddhist learning institute of Larung Gar, where demolition drive has been going on over a year.
McGovern called it a “draconian new control” and an “illegal takeover” of the renowned Buddhist learning centre that saw mass evictions of students and demolition of many structures since 2016.
The co-chair of the bipartisan Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission said that, “according to information published by Human Rights Watch on January 24, 2018, some 200 Communist Party cadres and lay officials are taking over all management, finances, security, admissions, and even the choice of textbooks at the Larung Gar centre, following demolitions and expulsions carried out last year.”
The Congressman also said that the incident exposes the wider picture of religious freedom under fire in Tibet which is counter to Beijing’s claims. “China says it respects constitutionally protected religious beliefs that is a lie. When the state puts officials who are required to be atheists in charge of your religious institution, that is not religious freedom. When admission requires a firm political stand when the state tells you what to teach and students must honour the communist party that is not religious freedom,” he said on Jan. 31.
McGovern objected that the Trump administration has been silent on the issue and that such inaction will push Congress to act to counter China’s “egregious actions”.
Earlier in October, London based NGO Free Tibet released satellite images captured by specialists at Apollo Mapping that showed drastic changes in the landscape at Larung Gar which was once the largest and most important Tibetan Buddhist center boasting over 10,000 students.
Over 4,800 people have been removed and 4,700 buildings, mostly residences, have been destroyed since July 2016.