In late October 2021, Chinese authorities of Drago County (Cn: Luhuo), in Karze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, ordered the demolition of Gaden Rabten Namgyaling School at Drago Monastery. Monastery officials were told to demolish the school within three days, as the buildings allegedly infringed upon local land-use laws. Forcing the Tibetans at the monastery to destroy the school themselves, the Chinese authorities threatened that, if the deadline was not met, the government would step in and seize the land.
Founded in 2014, the Gaden Rabten Namgyaling School aimed to provide a blend of both traditional and modern education for Drago Monastery’s young monks. The school offered a broad curriculum, with classes in Tibetan language and grammar, Mandarin Chinese, English, Madhyamaka, and other Buddhist doctrines being given prior to the forced closure. Young student monks attending the school were ordered to return to their homes, depriving some 130 Tibetans of vital education and cultural-religious experience.
The demolition of the school comes amid wider campaigns of cultural destruction, surveillance, and information crackdown by Chinese authorities in Tibet. Those living in the vicinity of Drago Monastery have been particularly targeted in this regard. Tibet Watch sources – whose identities are protected by anonymity for their personal safety – report that the focus on Drago Monastery by Chinese authorities is likely in response to a series of protests between 2008 and 2012, where members of the Tibetan community expressed anger at brutal and violent policing.
The practice of Chinese authorities demolishing Buddhist schools, monasteries, and training academies is an ongoing issue. In 2017, Tibet Watch produced a report on the destruction of homes at the Larung Gar Buddhist Academy. Thousands of Tibetan Buddhist practitioners were displaced by police raids and demolitions by Chinese authorities – with those who resisted eviction facing arrest and imprisonment.
Information supplied by Tibet Watch