By Choekyi Lhamo
DHARAMSHALA, Dec. 28: The Chinese authorities in Drago County in the Kham region of Tibet have reportedly demolished a 99-foot statue of Buddha, and destroyed 45 huge prayer wheels that were erected near Drago monastery, sources cited by Dharamshala-based Tibet Watch said. The report published on Friday said that the county chief Wang Dongsheng was responsible for this demolition, a top official who was also involved in the widespread destruction of Larung Gar Buddhist Academy.
The massive statue was first built with a financial contribution of 4,000,00 Yuan ($6.3 million), whereas 1,800,000 Yuan (around 282,500 USD) were spent on prayer wheels by local Tibetans set in the Kardze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in the so-called Sichuan Province. The process of demolition took place from December 12 onwards with “military troops heavily deployed in the crossroads of its vicinity to prevent any form of protest,” according to the source.
The rights organization said that the statue was formally constructed with full approval of the local authorities, established for Buddhists’ belief that it would prevent famine, war and potential catastrophes of fire, water, earth and air. The local Chinese authorities, at the time of demolition, invalidated the documents related to the construction and said that the statue’s height was not allowed in the vicinity.
The bronze statue of Buddha was officially completed on October 5 in 2015, after consulting religious figures overseeing plans with respect to location, time, cardinal direction and layout of these activities. “This tragic wave of demolition follows the forced demolition of the nearby Gaden Namgyal Monastic School in late October this year. As a result, over a hundred of its young students were expelled and ordered an immediate return to their homes,” said the report. The Chinese government had ordered Tibetans to demolish a Tibetan Buddhist school after alleging that the school had “violated” the land use law, and the administration was only given three days to evacuate the premises.