China tightens security around Larung Gar

22nd December 2017

Screening procedures including scanners and ID cards have been introduced as residents are forced to prove to local authorities that they live at the site

Authorities in eastern Tibet have tightened security around Larung Gar Buddhist Institute, with residents now being required to prove that they live at the site if they wish to enter.

Larung Gar, located in eastern Tibet and the largest Tibetan Buddhist site in the world, has been the scene of widespread forced evictions and house demolitions throughout the past two decades. Since July 2016, it has been subject to a particularly intense series of forced removals and demolitions after local authorities issued a plan to cut the population from 10,000-20,000 residents down to 5,000. 4,828 residents were forced to leave between summer 2016 and summer 2017.

The remaining residents, be they monks, nuns or laypeople, are required to apply for permits confirming that they live at Larung Gar. Two checkpoints have been set up on the main road to Larung Gar to screen those approaching the site.

To enter the first security gate, monks and nuns must present their pass and walk through a full-body scanner. Further up the road is a second security gate, where those passing through are questioned by police officers stationed there.

Screening procedures at Larung Gar

Relatives of residents who wish to visit Larung Gar are required to register at the security gate and undergo questioning. Relatives are not allowed to enter the homes of the people they are visiting and are only permitted to be at the site for a set time. 

The new measures follow previous restrictions on residents and former residents at Larung Gar. Monks and nuns forced out of Larung Gar have already been coerced into signing pledges, in which they promise never to return. Last month the religious festival Dechen Shingdrup was cancelled for a second successive year.

China first built a checkpoint in front of the main gate of Larung Gar in 2001. These new screening measures appear to be more sophisticated.

While residents have been forced to leave and their homes destoyed, Chinese work teams at Larung Gar have been constructing tourist infrastructure, such as building hotels, widening roads and clearing space around temples and other religious buildings.  

Further information on the damage inflicted on Larung Gar can be found in Free Tibet and Tibet Watch's recent joint report, 'Destroying Heaven', available here (PDF).

Information supplied by Tibet Watch

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