By Tenzin Monlam
Jokhang on fire. File photo
DHARAMSHALA, March 5: With no information coming out of Tibet on the actual damage of Jokhang Temple in the fire that engulfed the temple compound last month, the President of Central Tibetan Administration (Sikyong) Dr. Lobsang Sangay called for an independent investigation into it.
Expressing his concern over the incident and calling for a ‘transparent verification’ of the damage to the Jokhang, he said, “The lack of clear information about the fire as a result of the blanket of censorship has left a gaping hole in the narrative of what actually happened. Therefore, I urge UNESCO to investigate into the matter and send journalists into Tibet for an independent investigation.”
Jokhang, a world Heritage and one of the most holy temples in Tibet, was included among the UNESCO World Heritage sites along with the Potala Palace in 2000.
However, the Chinese government has put a lid on information related to the extent of damage to the relics and the iconic Jokhang temple. Only ‘information handed was that the police have ruled out arson as the cause of fire and all the registered 6,510 relics were intact.’
Despite China’s claim, Tibetans outside Tibet and experts have raised doubt over the swift censor of anything related to the Jokhang fire from Chinese social media. The lack of information may also be due to the lockdown of Tibet and clampdown on communication ahead of the politically sensitive month of March.
Tibet.net, the official website of the CTA, quoted a source saying that the damage to the shrine is more than initially reported and the back wall of the idol of iconic Jhowo Shakyamuni and murals had been damaged.