Larung Gar Buddhist academy, one of the largest Tibetan Buddhism institutes of the world, is under threat of large-scale destruction. Chinese authorities have demolished several buildings in the Larung Gar, which is located in the remote Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan province, to reduce the population in the area.
The academy was founded by Norbu Khenpo Jigme Phuntshok in the 1980s in the mountains of the remote prefecture. The academy, which serves as the wellspring of knowledge, has tens of thousands of monks and nuns.
The large-scale demolition is taking place as the government wants to reduce Larung Gar's population to no more than 5,000 residents by September 2017. They have also circulated a notice to the effect from local officials.
The current population of Larung Gar is not clear, but according to reports, more than 10,000 people are estimated to be living there. On Friday, US Human Rights Commission expressed deep concern over the large-scale destruction of the town, saying these actions by Chinese authorities violate the "religious freedom of the persons affected and the Tibetan community at large."
"We strongly urge your government to reverse course, stop the demolitions and evictions, rebuild and restore the affected infrastructure, and permit all those people under Chinese jurisdiction who wish to pursue their Buddhist faith to do so without government interference or guidance," it said.
"Earlier this year, in Serta county of Sichuan province, a local government directive was issued ordering a drastic reduction – from at least 10,000 people to no more than 5,000 — of the population of the historic Tibetan Buddhist Institute of Larung Gar, one of the world's largest and most prominent monastic institutions," the letter said.
"Mr Ambassador, the right to freedom of religious belief is recognised in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and under article 36 of the Chinese constitution. In keeping with these provisions, we strongly urge the central government to investigate the actions of the authorities who have demolished religious buildings, expelled practitioners, and imposed restrictions on religious belief and practice; order the reversal of these misguided policies; provide reparations for the damage caused to date; and simply allow people to practice their faith in peace."
"As Co-Chairs of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission we will continue to closely monitor both the situation at these monasteries and the respect of religious freedom for the Tibetan and Chinese peoples, as this is a value deeply cherished by US citizens and institutions," the letter concluded.