REMEMBRANCE OF THE CULTURAL REVOLUTION in 2007
Colossal Guru Rinpoche statue demolished at Samye by China's new Religious Affairs Department
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is about to be placed
on the bottom section
of the statue of Guru Rinpoche
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Head of Guru Rinpoche
secured and statue near completion.
This picture was taken shortly before
the Chinese army came in and destroyed the massive
monument in the middle of May 2007.
The Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) received confirmed information that, in mid May 2007, Chinese People's Armed Police (PAP) demolished a gigantic statue of Guru Padmasambhava on the premises of Samye Monastery. The rubble from the statue's destruction was transported to an unknown location. The gold and copper plated statue was under construction and nearly completed when PAP forcibly demolished it. Funds for the Padmasambhava had been donated by two Chinese devotees from Guangzhou Province.
In order to cover up the vandalism, the PAP barred pilgrims, devotees and foreign tourists from visiting Samye. A huge network of Chinese were deployed around the monastery. Monks did not dare disclose any information. One local Tibetan told TCHRD that, "Tibetans in Lhoka, particularly in Dranang County did not dare to challenge the officials openly but...people fear and worry that the demolition of Guru Rinpoche's statue and transportation of its rubble bear a resemblance to the dark era of the Cultural Revolution.The new law implemented by the PAP states that no group or individual outside of religious organizations and venues for religious activities may build religious structures such as a large-scale open-air religious statue or prayer wheel.
Samye Update--June 24, 2007
An Australian friend just returned from Samye with disheartening photos and more details. The event described above occured at 6:00 pm. All of the monks at Samye were locked in their rooms without explanation. All communication outlets were also shut off. When the monastery was "secure", the Chinese destroyed Guru Rinpoche and hauled it away by trucks, including sacred items placed inside the statue. When the monks were finally freed, the monument was simply gone.
But even more disturbing is the photograph (see below) taken of the area surrounding the wall that encircles the monastic compound. The Tibetan village, which I photographed in 2000, has been razed by Chinese developers. In its place is a concrete tourist mecca: among other things, a very sizable rectangular hotel, almost the size of the main Samye temple; "boutique shops" for visitors flank a new road that leads to a new bridge spanning the Tsangpo River. Soon the road will be paved all the way to Lhasa, leaving no doubt that the Chinese authorities are positioning Samye as a new major tourist attraction for all the additional Mainland Chinese and foreigners expected to arrive because of the newly constructed railroad ending at Lhasa. Once again, Tibetan culture and religion have been elbowed out of the "Autonomous Region of Tibet." Can a Chinese golf course be far behind?
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