Tibetan school forcibly demolished by Chinese state

Tibetans have been forced to demolish the school themselves, otherwise the Chinese state will step in and seize the land.
10th November 2021

The demolition of the Gaden Rabten Namgyaling School at Drago Monastery has left 130 young students without vital Tibetan education.

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.

In photographs from the demolition, Tibetans can be seen removing building materials by hand, alongside others using machinery.

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 practioners were displaced by police raids and demolitions by Chinese authorities - with those who resisted eviction facing arrest and imprisonment. 

Information supplied by Tibet Watch

  • Tibetans were seen dismantling the school with hand tools, using machinery to lift and carry materials away from the site.

  • Members of the local community came together to assist with the demolition, striving to meet the three-day deadline to ensure that the land was not taken by the state.

  • Mobile cranes were used to assist in dismantling the larger buildings, which used to provide space to teach over 130 young Tibetans.

  • The demolition order at Gaden Rabten Namgyaling School is part of an ongoing campaign by Chinese authorities to limit young Tibetans' access to cultural education.

  • Gaden Rabten Namgyaling School's demolition comes after 80 Tibetan teenage monks were expelled from their monastic school earlier in October 2021.

Information and images in this article provided by Tibet Watch.

Tibetan education is not a crime

The destruction of Gaden Rabten Namgyaling School comes amidst an ongoing crackdown against Tibetan education and Tibetan scholars.

In August 2021, Tibetan teacher Rinchen Kyi was arrested for allegedly 'inciting separatism', following the closure of the Tibetan school at which she worked. One of many Tibetan political prisoners, Rinchen Kyi's arrest epitomises the Chinese authorities' fear of Tibetan education and desire to limit Tibetan cultural learning.

Join our campaign demanding the Chinese government free Rinchen Kyi.