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Demolition of Atsok monastery begins amid tightened restrictions

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Aerial view of Atsok Monastery (Photo/WeChat account of Atsok Monastery via Tibet Watch)

By Tsering Dhundup

DHARAMSHALA, June 10: The demolition of the 135-year-old Atsok Monastery in Amdo (Ch: Xinghai) has begun amid strict internet and movement restrictions on the local Tibetan population in Drakkar County. 

According to research group Tibet Watch, Chinese authorities have forbidden the public from taking or sharing photos and videos of the monastery’s demolition as well as the construction of the Yangchu hydropower station on social media. Residents are also banned from visiting the monastery and the planned relocation site. Construction at the relocation site is incomplete, and monks reside in temporary makeshift shelters. Monastery property has been stored in a warehouse in Palkha Township.

The research group revealed that a source from Tibet reported an incident involving a Tibetan from Dekyi Village who was arrested and detained by police last month after sharing pictures of the demolition and a photo of the Dalai Lama on the micro-messaging app WeChat. The individual’s identity and current whereabouts remain unknown.

The relocation is part of a hydropower project approved on November 29, 2021, by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC). The Electricity Engineering Construction Company of the Yellow River, or Machu Kungsi, was tasked with the construction, which began site planning in December 2021. The expansion of the Yangqu hydropower station on the Yellow River in Qinghai Province started in 2022 and is set for completion later this year.

For two years, monks from Atsok Monastery have petitioned authorities to rescind the relocation orders, according to a source. However, in April 2023, the Department of National Heritage declared the artefacts and murals inside the monastery as having no significant value, allowing the relocation to proceed. Authorities have announced funding for dismantling and reconstructing the monastery.

Atsok Monastery, founded by Atsok Choktrul Kunchok Choedar in 1889, housed over 157 monks and provided Buddhist education. The enrollment of monks under 18 was stopped in 2021 by the Chinese government. Tibetans regard the monastery as sacred, made holier by generations of prayers and practice for over 135 years. This relocation is the second major construction project in the Karmo Yeakhyil Valley. From 2014 to 2017, nearly 400 Chinese labourers built the Gama Yangqu River Highway Bridge to facilitate the construction of the Yangqu Hydropower Dam.

One Response

  1. This is shocking beyond belief! The CCP has no respect for any religion and is in fact anti-religion and anti-Buddhism. In whole of Asia and in the west, all religious places are held with great respect and esteem. There aren’t any Government in the world who takes delight in destroying Buddhist holy places except the evil CCP of China and the Taliban of Afghanistan. Both of them are drunk with violent ideology of fanaticism. The Taliban rulers of Afghanistan violently demolished the famous giant Bamiyan Buddha which was believed to be built around 600 CE The Chinese communists have done the same by destroying every statue, stupa, public library and every monastery when it invaded and violently occupied Tibet. It destroyed every religious symbol in Tibet and continues to do to this day! When it comes to Chinese tombs and sites that have been destroyed by others, they make a mountain out of a mole to chastise the vandals with vicious attacks and disparage them for their deeds. Yuan Ming Yuan, the old summer palace of the Ming dynasty was destroyed a century and half ago by the Anglo-French forces has been turned into a national shrine! Chinese school children are made to visit the palace as pilgrimage by the tens of thousands. They enter the main gate where a a sign reminds them to “ never forget the national humiliation”!!!!
    However, when the communists Chinese desecrate, demolish and vandalise the most sacred historical, spiritual and historical sites of Tibetans, they treat it as of no consequence in spite of the fact that they are extremely sacred and holy to the Tibetan people! This shows the utter lack of respect for the Tibetan people’s belief and spiritual heritage. This attitude stems from the Han chauvinism that is sweeping across communist China like Hitler’s Nazi Germany, where only the Aryan race was the superior race and all others are to be eliminated including their culture, religion and identity. The Holocaust was the result of Nazi nationalism and communist China is committing Holocaust by stealth in occupied Tibet through Han chauvinism dressed as nationalism!

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