China to demolish half of world's biggest Buddhist centre

Beijing: China is planning significant demolition at one of the largest Buddhist monasteries in the world, which would reduce the centre to half its size and render thousands homeless, said Human Rights Watch on Friday. According to a recent official order, the Chinese government is set to demolish the residential quarters of around 5,000 monks and other workers of the Academy of Larung Gar that is home to 10,000 people, and impose joint management of the monastery, Efe news quoted a statement by HRW as saying. The country's ruling Communist Party or local government officials will form the majority in the monastery's new management team, a practice that has become common in other monasteries in the Tibetan regions too, HRW claimed. HRW calls this a violation of the right to religious freedom as enshrined in the Chinese constitution, and urged Beijing to reconsider its policy. The human rights organisation's protest comes shortly after it released an extensive report on persecution in Tibetan regions. In the report, HRW expresses concern against the Chinese government having extended its repression of dissidence to these enclaves through unprecedented monitoring and control in rural areas and small cities, and leading to never-before-seen numbers of detentions and protests. Buddhists, however, are not the only religious group to be reeling under such repression; in eastern China, authorities are withdrawing or destroying crosses from churches, while children and Muslim officials are forbidden to fast during Ramadan in the western part of the country.