A Tibetan Buddhist academy placed under the direct management of the atheist Communist Party

The centre’s new director, secretary and members of the board of directors are all party members, atheists, non-believers in Buddhism. The demolition of student houses continues. The authorities plan to develop the area for tourism.

Chengdu (AsiaNews) – Tibet’s Larug Gar Buddhist Academy will be headed by a Communist director and secretary, and other Communist officials will hold the majority on the board of directors.

The learning centre, which is located in Garze (western Sichuan), was established in the 1980s by Jigme Phuntsok, a monk who attracted tens of thousands of followers and monks. Since the founder’s death in 2004, the centre was ruled by a group of authoritative, democratically elected monks.

On 20 August, the Sichuan Prefecture decided to appoint Garze's deputy police chief as the Academy’s director, who will also serve as its party secretary. Two officials from the local Religious Affairs Bureau will become the academy’s deputy director and deputy party secretary. Three other local party officials will be the monastery’s party secretary and management committee directors.

Although all of them are Tibetans, they belong to an atheist party and do not believe in Buddhism.

According to the Dharamshala-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, the goal of this move is, first, to diminish the Academy’s value and influence, placing it in the hands of incompetent people, and, second, to boost local tourism through infrastructure development. The latter however could destroy the academy’s natural and spiritual environment.

This is not the first time that Larung Gar is targeted. More than a year ago, the authorities tore down student houses and chased many away. Out of 10,000 students, male and female, studying at the academy in 2016, only 4,828 monks and nuns are left. Some 4,725 houses were flattened.

Almost two years ago, Xi Jinping, in a speech to the United Front, noted that religions must submit to the Chinese Communist Party.

Since then, all religious activity (by Buddhists, Taoists, Muslims, Christians) has come under tighter controls. The scrupulous application of regulations has included tearing down crosses and demolishing mosques and temples.