Chinese Public Security Bureau (PSB) officials entered the compound of the Larung Gar Buddhist Institute near the town of Serthar (Ch: Seda) in eastern Tibet (present-day Sichuan Province) on December 25, 2002, and attempted to demolish the reconstructed huts there, according to the Dharamsala-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD).
The PSB officials were confronted by monks and nuns of the Institute and had to leave after demolishing only a few huts. TCHRD also reports that the head of the institute, Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok, has been taken to Barkham for medical treatment. Barkham is the capital of Ngapa Tibetan Autonomous County. TCHRD did not have any information of his health status.
Following is the full text of the TCHRD statement released on December 27, 2002.
Row erupted over reconstruction at Serthar Institute
Tibetan Centre For Human Rights And Democracy – Dharamsala
According to confirmed reports received by Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD), a scuffle ensued between nuns of Serthar Buddhist Institute and PSB officers (Public Security Bureau) from Karze “TAP” (Tibet Autonomous Prefecture) on 25 December 2002. The PSB officers attempted to destroy ongoing reconstruction works at the demolished site of the institute. One police suffered head injury when a stone hit him.
Additional police force converged the next day to continue the demolition task. Over 200 monks and nuns assembled to halt the work resulting in yet another affray between the two parties. In the midst of it all, the police reportedly shot gunfire. It is unclear as yet whether anyone was injured in the incident.
Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok, abbot of Serthar Buddhist Institute, is currently undergoing medical treatment in a hospital in Barkham County in Sichuan Province. Members of Serthar’s Managing Committee are trying to resolve the issue by peaceful means.
Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok was returned to Serthar Buddhist Institute after a year-long incommunicado detention in Chengdu. Upon Khenpo’s return in November 2002, religious discourse resumed within the institute under heavy surveillance. Severe restrictions on religious teachings and practices were imposed.
The burgeoning strength of the institute has fallen drastically and fences were built around the dismantled huts in order to prevent further constructions and renovations. After two years of escalating restrictions and propaganda campaigns, the Chinese authorities in 2001 evicted thousands of monks and nuns, and destroyed over 1,000 hut dwellings. Serthar Institute is located in Serthar Town, Karze “TAP”, Sichuan Province.
Updates shall follow upon receiving further information. For background information on Serthar Institute, log onto www.tchrd.org.