Nagchu County is situated in the northern part of what China calls the Tibet Autonomous Region. It is home to Shak Rongpo Gaden Dargyeling Monastery, a Gelugpa monastery established over 300 years ago. It was subjected to severe repression from April 2010, along with the surrounding population, after members of the monastery were accused of contacting the Dalai Lama, forbidden by the Chinese authorities.
A month-long patriotic re-education programme was enforced upon the whole monastery in April 2010 and the monastery’s abbot, Dawa, was arrested. During the programme, enforced by about 150 armed policemen, monks were commanded to denounce the Dalai Lama and Dawa. Monk Ngawang Gyatso, aged 75, hanged himself in an apparent protest at the treatment of his fellow monks.
Shak Rongpo Gaden Dargyeling Monastery was reopened in July 2013 but then shut down again before the month had ended after monks continued to petition authorities, calling for Dawa to be reinstated and for an end to the denunciation campaigns against him and the Dalai Lama. Religious activities were prohibited in the monastery and all the monks were expelled. A large military presence was established near the deserted monastery and approximately 2000 military and 400 security personnel were deployed in the area.
Free Tibet’s research partner Tibet Watch has published a comprehensive report examining the role of monasteries in defending Tibet – and the price they have paid in repression.
[Content warning: the above reports contains graphic images of injuries that some may find distressing]