Sichuan, the government closes a network of Tibetan Buddhist centers

Beijing says activities carried out within the Bodhi Institute of Compassion and Wisdom are "illegal".  For the Tibetan diaspora, the goal is to reduce the religious and moral influence of the founding monk, a disciple of the Larung Gar academy.


Beijing (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Beijing government has closed a network of Tibetan Buddhist centers in Sichuan.  This was reported by the director of the centers, Khenpo Sodargye, founder of the Bodhi Institute of Compassion and Wisdom, with various offices in the Chinese province. 

According to the authorities, "illegal activities" are carried out within the centers.  NGO International Campaign for Tibet (Ict), broke the news claiming the goal instead is to "limit the religious and moral influence" of the monk, a disciple of the famous Tibetan study center Larung Gar, who has been targeted by Beijing  for several years.

The founder of the Institute declares that all prayer centers have been closed since 30 December.  In his interview yesterday with Ict, a Washington-based association that defends the Tibetan cause, he stresses that "he will continue to love the nation as well as religion."  Then he asked people to ignore any fundraising requests made on behalf of the Institute.

The Sodargye network is affiliated to the Larung Gar center (in Garze, western Sichuan).  It is one of the most important Buddhist academies built in the 1980s thanks to the commitment of the monk Jigme Phuntsok, who attracted tens of thousands of faithful and monks around him to deepen their faith and study the sacred texts of Tibetan Buddhism.

Since 2004, the year of the founder's death, the center has been run by a group of authoritative monks, chosen democratically.  Subsequently, since 2017, the Sichuan prefecture has entrusted the management to six Tibetans, all members of the Chinese Communist Party.  The hill on which the academy stands was also targeted by the authorities: in 2016 an urban restructuring was ordered, which in fact destroyed many homes and chased away most of the residents.

According to Radio Free Asia, between 2017 and 2018 the Chinese authorities removed at least 4,820 monks and nuns, forcing them to return to their countries of origin, depriving them of the opportunity to deepen their religious formation.  In addition, since 2001 they have destroyed about 7 thousand monastic residences.  According to Ict, the expulsions and demolitions in Larung Gar and Yachen Gar, another Buddhist center in Sichuan, are part of "a political strategy in progress", aimed at controlling the influence and growth of "these important centers of  study and practice of Tibetan Buddhism ".