UN experts express "serious concern" at Larung Gar evictions and demolitions

Demolitions taking place at Larung Gar last year
Demolitions taking place at Larung Gar last year
27th February 2017

Special Rapporteurs covering a range of human rights issues write to Beijing as threat of further demolitions and removals looms

Six United Nations experts have written to Beijing to express their “deep concern” at the ongoing demolitions and forced removals of residents at Larung Gar Buddhist Institute and cultural and religious repression in Tibet.

The expressions of concern were part of a joint communication by the six experts, officially known as UN Special Rapporteurs, to the Chinese government on 7 November. The communication was kept confidential until this week.

UN Special Rapporteurs each cover a particular field of expertise. The six who wrote to China cover cultural rights; human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment; the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association; the right to  adequate housing; minority issues; and freedom of religion or belief.

In their communication to Beijing, the six Special Rapporteurs requested detailed information on eight points, including the legal grounds for the demolitions and expulsions, why no consultation took place with residents and local religious leaders prior to the demolitions and the reason for deciding that the number of residents should be reduced to 5,000 people.

Further questions included whether all feasible alternatives to eviction and demolitions have been explored in consultation with the residents of Larung Gar, and what measures had been taken to resettle evicted residents or compensate them.

The concerns raised by the UN experts adds to the international pressure against China, whose actions in Larung Gar have also been condemned by MPs, representatives and government bodies around the world, including the co-chairs of the United States’ Human Rights Commission and the European Parliament.

Expulsions and beatings

Since the authorities issued a plan in June 2016 to cut the number of residents in Larung Gar down to 5,000, at least 6,700 monks and nuns have been evicted from their homes. They have since been returned to their native regions, with some of them subjected to humiliating patriotic re-education sessions and prevented from joining new monasteries and nunneries. Over 1,500 buildings at Larung Gar, many of them homes, have been demolished.

Information from Tibet indicates that although demolition work was halted in December due to the harsh winter conditions, they are due to resume soon.

The UN experts also raised the mass expulsion of religious practitioners from Yarchen Gar in Baiyü County, Kardze, eastern Tibet. An estimated 1,000 worshippers were forced to leave the site last year.

They also questioned the Chinese government about the excessive use of force by armed police against Tibetans protesting in Amchok, Sangchu County in June 2016. The protesters had been carrying out a peaceful demonstration against an open-air mining project. The police beat and detained several of the protesters, with six of them hospitalised as a result of their injuries.

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