Free Tibet calls on EU to press China on Larung Gar

10th January 2017

Campaign urges EU to use upcoming Human Rights Dialogue to press China to halt demolitions

Free Tibet today launched an appeal, asking the European Union to use its forthcoming meeting on human rights with China to demand a halt to the demolitions and forced removals at Larung Gar Buddhist Institute.

The EU-China Dialogue on Human Rights, due to take place at some point later this month, will come a month after the European Parliament issued a strong resolution highlighting the "extensive demolition" at Larung Gar.

The resolution, issued on 15 December 2016, urged China to stop the demolitions and removal of residents at Larung Gar and to respect Tibetans’ freedom of religion. It called for adequate compensation and the re-housing of Tibetans who had been evicted from Larung Gar.

The resolution also urged the Chinese authorities to enter into a dialogue with the local community and Tibetan religious leaders with a view to allowing Tibetans to build more monastic institutions. The Chinese authorities have justified the demolitions at Larung Gar by claiming that they are being carried out to prevent overcrowding and for the safety of the residents. However, existing restrictions imposed by China prevent Tibetans from building new monastic institutions in Tibet.  Free Tibet’s research partner, Tibet Watch, has found cases of monks and nuns, having been returned to their native regions from Larung Gar, being prevented from joining new monasteries and nunneries.

Tibetans gather in Dharamsala as part of last year's Day of Action for Larung Gar

A key opportunity

The forthcoming EU-China Dialogue on Human Rights provides the EU with an opportunity to follow up on the European Parliament's resolution by directly requesting its Chinese counterparts that they bring the forced removals, demolitions, and other violations of freedom of religion in Tibet to an immediate and unconditional halt.

Free Tibet, along with other Tibet campaigning organisations, has launched a campaign, asking Federica Mogherini, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, to ensure that Larung Gar is prioritised in this meeting.

Free Tibet’s appeal also requests that High Representative Mogherini makes a public statement condemning China’s actions at Larung Gar, sending a clear message to China that the EU opposes the damage being done to Larung Gar and the wider restrictions on freedom of religion in Tibet.

Members of the United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office confirmed to Free Tibet in December that they had raised Larung Gar with China during the UK-China Human Rights Dialogue last autumn. Free Tibet has raised Larung Gar and a number of other concerns with the FCO in advance of their Human Rights Dialogue with China.

Counting the cost

4,600 residents have been forced to leave Larung Gar Buddhist Institute since 20 July 2016 as part of a plan to cut the number of residents down to 5,000 by October 2017. At least 1,500 residences have been demolished.

The damage done to Larung Gar had a devastating impact on Tibetans inside and outside of Larung Gar. Three nuns are reported to have taken their own lives in protest against the demolitions, which two of them referred to in notes as government harassment.

Residents who have been removed from Larung Gar have been made to sign pledges promising not to return to live at the site. Some of those sent back home, thousands of miles away from Larung Gar, were also subjected to humiliating patriotic re-education sessions, in which they were forced to sing Chinese propaganda songs and denounce their own Tibetan culture and religion.

The demolitions and removals have sparked anger and protest. On 19 October, Tibet Groups across five continents took part in a Day of Action for Larung Gar, to raise awareness and demand an end to the destruction.

Take action

Send a message to the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, urging her to ensure that the EU presses China on Larung Gar at the upcoming EU-China Human Rights Dialogue.