Thousands of residents at Yarchen Gar ordered to tear down their own homes

Yarchen Gar
Yarchen Gar
24th August 2017

An eyewitness was able to confirm that the Chinese authorities have stepped up demolitions of homes at the Buddhist institute.

Free Tibet has learned that the Chinese authorities has ordered further demolitions to be carried out at the institute of Yarchen Gar in Kardze, eastern Tibet. The demolitions have already begun, with residents having to pull down their own homes.

On 10 August 2017, instructions were issued requiring the removal of 3,500 homes belonging to monks and nuns.

The reason given for the order was that space needed to be cleared for the construction of a series of roads within Yarchen Gar. Seven roads are to be built within the monk's residential complex and ten roads in the nun's residential complex. Each of the proposed roads will be 10 metres wide.

A spike in demolitions

Yarchen Gar is home to thousands of residents, many of whom constructed their homes themselves. The site has been subject to interference from the authorities, including demolitions and removals of residents, since 2001, with 40 homes destroyed last year so that roads could be built.

This latest order to tear down 3,500 homes represents a dramatic increase in demolitions. The order started to be implemented on 12 August, with authorities instructing residents to dismantle their own homes voluntarily. Residents were told that otherwise this task would be carried out by demolition crews, who could damage the materials they used to build their homes.

Faced with the possibility of losing these building materials, many residents complied with this order. The lama who oversees Yarchen Gar offered residents 500 Yuan (around GBP £58 or USD $75) as compensation for the loss of their homes.

They were ordered to register their identity cards and to sign and give thumb prints to a document to certify how long they had lived at Yarchen Gar. The document committed residents to returning to their native regions of Tibet, 'loving the country and loving the religion' and never returning to Yarchen Gar after leaving.

Yarchen Gar

A rock falling from a high mountain that no one can reverse

Residents were advised not to express any kind of disagreement with these orders. The lama at the site called on residents to show calm and patience in the face of the demolitions and forced removals.

He also advised them not to express opposition to or details about the demolitions through social media. He nevertheless expressed his helplessness and disappointment, saying that the August order was: "like a rock falling from the high mountain -  no one could reverse it." He added that he would not be able to sleep at night.

Another senior monk from Yarchen Gar travelled to the TAR to request that authorities permitted monks and nuns from the TAR who have not yet been evicted to stay in Yarchen Gar. The authorities did not agree to this request.

Yarchen Gar

15 years of destruction

Since 2001 an estimated 2,000 homes have been demolished at Yarchen Gar. Restrictions were greatly increased in 2008, with large numbers of monks and nuns being evicted. Approximately 3,000-4,000 people have been removed from Yarchen Gar since 2008, especially those from regions within the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR).

Free Tibet’s research partner Tibet Watch found cases of residents being summoned by authorities and made to give thumb prints on a letter pledging that they would not return to Yarchen Gar in the future.

Some evicted residents were also subjected to patriotic re-education sessions, a humiliating practice often meted out to Tibetans as a form of punishment for protests or other acts that Chinese authorities deem to be violations of the law. In these sessions Tibetans are generally forced to pledge allegiance to China and denounce the Dalai Lama.

Along with residents from the TAR who were evicted and sent home, residents who left Yarchen Gar to visit home, whether for health reasons or family visits, were sent for re-education.

Larung Gar in jeopardy

The order at Yarchen Gar follows an intensive year of demolitions at removals at Larung Gar. Over 4,800 people have been removed since last July and some 4,725 houses have been ripped down under the pretext of combating overcrowding and preventing fire from breaking out.

As with Yarchen Gar, the removals at Larung Gar have been carried out with threats of force and former residents have been forced to undergo patriotic re-education upon returning to their native regions.

Free Tibet has learned that six members of the Chinese Communist Party were appointed this week to oversee the site’s  management. We will have further details on this development tomorrow.


Information supplied by Tibet Watch


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The ongoing destruction of Larung Gar Buddhist Institute. Pressure is growing on the Chinese authorities to halt the forcible eviction of residents at the religious centre and the demolition of their precious homes.

Add your voice to the call for this destructive action to stop.