China destroys a Buddha statue to destroy its religion

Buddha statue in Drago

While the West is celebrating the holiday season with, New Year and Epiphany, and China prepares to celebrate the Chinese New Year, the Tibetan people mourn the destruction - yet another - of a symbol of their millennial religion and culture implemented by the despotic and dismal dictatorship of the Chinese Communist Party. A little less than a month to the start of the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing, China is once again showing the international community its true face in disregard for the human rights that animate the Games and the feelings of the other participating nations. The hope is that the international community will take more and more action to force the Chinese government to respect the human rights of the ethnic groups that make up (often against their will) the vast Chinese empire.

99-foot Buddha statue and 45 prayer wheels forcibly demolished with prayer flags taken off and burned

TibetWatch — A 99-foot statue of Buddha, built with a financial contribution of 4,000,000 Yuan from local Tibetans in Drago (Ch: Luhuo 炉霍) County, Kardze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province, was destroyed under the instruction of the local Chinese government. The demolition took place from 12 December onwards with military troops heavily deployed in the crossroads of its vicinity to prevent any form of protest. 45 huge prayer wheels erected near Drago Monastery were also destroyed and large vertical prayer flags were removed from their staves and burned.

Buddha statue in Drago County

Buddha statue in Drago County being circumambulated by local Tibetans

Reliable sources reported to Tibet Watch that the statue was constructed with the full approval of the local authorities and intended for preventing famine, war, and catastrophes of fire, water, earth and air. However, during the demolition, the local Chinese authorities have invalidated the documents related to these constructions and said that a statue of that height was not allowed.

Phases of the destruction of the statue

Two different phases of the destruction of the statue

This practice of constructing statues to prevent catastrophes is well known amongst Tibetans. The learned religious figures overseeing such plans attend to great detail in following the tradition of respecting the location, time, cardinal direction and layout of these activities. The statue of Buddha, which officially completed its construction on 5 October 2015, shows a specific hand gesture known in Sanskrit as Bhumisparsha mudra, literally translated as ‘touching the earth’. Videos obtained from anonymous sources show the devotion of Tibetans, circumambulating around the statue which used to be kept alight even at night.

Spinning the prayer wheels into a clockwise rotation is also a centuries-long tradition of Tibetans. Scrolls of scriptures embedded inside them contain hundreds of thousands of Buddhist mantras. Turning the prayer wheel into circles with a sincere meditation on the mantra’s meaning is therefore believed to awaken the Buddha nature in the person committing to the circumambulation.

Prayer wheels

Screenshot of the row of 45 big prayer wheels which contain hundreds of thousands of Buddhist mantras

The destruction of both the statue and the row of huge prayer wheels (Tib:མ་ནི་དུང་འཁོར།།) has profoundly infringed on the freedom and dignity of lay Tibetans and the monastic community, for whom these form a tangible part of expressing and continuing their history, religion, and culture on a daily basis.

This tragic wave of demolition follows the forced demolition of the nearby Gaden Namgyal Monastic School (Tib: དགའ་ལྡན་རྣམ་རྒྱལ་་གླིང་དགོན།), in late October this year. As a result, over a hundred of its young students were expelled and ordered an immediate return to their homes.

With demolition orders targeting nearly every object and place of religious significance to the Tibetans of Drago County, Wang Dongsheng, County Chief of Serta County, has once again implemented the Chinese Communist Party’s hardline policies against Tibetans, and elevated his reputation as a top official who continues to issue wanton demolition orders. Wang Dongsheng was also the key top official involved in the widespread destruction of Larung Gar Buddhist Academy.

Source: Tibet Watch