Posted in News

China Destroys Giant Buddhist Statue in Tibet

In a demonstration of tightening controls over religious freedom in Tibet, the Chinese People’s Armed Police (PAP) destroyed a 30-foot high statue of the Buddhist figure Guru Rinpoche, or Padmasambhava, in Samye Monastery, the oldest monastery in Tibet. Guru Rinpoche is worshipped by Tibetan and Chinese Buddhists alike as the founder of Buddhism in Tibet in the 8th century.

Chinese authorities claim that the statue, which was constructed using funds from two Chinese Buddhists, violated regulations passed in January 2007 stating that “organizations and individuals not belonging to religious organizations or places of religious activity may not erect or construct large-scale outdoor religious statues or mani lhakhang [prayer wheel temple].”

The adoption of these recent regulations–and the demolition of the Guru Rinpoche statue–suggest a frightening trend toward further religious suppression of the Tibetan people by Beijing. As Buddhism rises in popularity worldwide, including among Chinese people, the Chinese government has responded by gripping the reins ever tighter over religious practices. Because Buddhism is intricately connected to Tibetan culture and national identity, Chinese measures to suppress it are especially severe.

One Tibetan in the Samye area told the Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) that “Tibetans in Lhoka, particularly in Dranang county, did not dare to challenge the officials openly but deep inside their heart, people fear and worry that the demolition of Guru Rinpoche’s statue and transportation of its rubble bear a resemblance to the dark era of the Cultural Revolution.”

After the Chinese occupation of Tibet in 1949, over 6,000 monasteries, nunneries, and temples were looted of precious religious artifacts or destroyed entirely. Over 110,000 religious leaders (including monks, nuns, and others) were tortured and put to death; an additional 250,000 were forcibly disrobed. Thousands of refugees continue to flee Tibet each year in search of religious freedoms they can no longer enjoy in their own country.

(Visited 24 times, 1 visits today)

Read Ethical Traveler's Reprint Policy.