In late October 2021, 30 teenage monks from Jakyung Monastery, and a further 50 from Deetsa Monastery, in Bayan County (Cn: Hualong), Qinghai Province were expelled by state officials. Security officers entered the monasteries and forcibly removed the students, before returning them to their respective homes.
Tibet Watch sources – under the condition of anonymity for their personal safety – reported that, upon return to their family homes, security officers informed students that they could no longer wear monks robes, nor could they attend school. Such a directive limits young Tibetan Buddhists’ access to their cultural heritage, as monasteries serve as an essential resource for Tibetan language and cultural learning.
Officially, the reason given for these expulsions is that those under the age of 18 are not permitted to enrol in monasteries. However, an official purpose for such a policy is not provided. These sources further report that this policy is being applied across Tibet, with a number of other monasteries being targeted, although a precise number of expelled student monks cannot be ascertained at this time.
It is a commonly held belief in Tibet that enrolling children in monasteries at a young age will provide them with a better upbringing, and greater opportunities to learn in a more traditional fashion. Furthermore, students are a vital part of a monastery’s structure; providing senior monks assistance in their duties to ensure smoother operation of the monastery, while also giving young Tibetans the opportunity to learn from their elders. The practice of enrolling children in monasteries for education has been followed in Tibetan culture for centuries, and, as such, this policy from the Chinese Communist Party is being viewed as an attack on the Tibetan way of life.
Information supplied by Tibet Watch