Agam's Gecko
Saturday, November 03, 2007
Statue of Guru Rinpoche
The statue of Guru Rinpoche before its demolition by Chinese forces. Note the person standing at the base.
Photo by a visiting tourist.

hina's occupying forces in Tibet have pulled another Taliban stunt on Tibet's Buddhists, destroying a large statue of the founder of Tibetan Buddhism near the sacred Mount Kailash. The Buddha statue, actually a representation of Padmasambhava who brought Buddhism from India to the Tibetan plateau in the eighth century, was reportedly blown up with explosives.

A number of foreign tourists who were visiting the Mount Kailash area at the time, took the last photographs of the stone image before its demolition on September 28. Subsequent photographs show nothing left but the base. Its location on a hillside at Darchen marked the beginning of a pilgrimage route around one of Asia's most sacred mountains, one that most Tibetan Buddhists will try to make at least once in their lifetime.

In accounts given by the tourist witnesses to International Campaign for Tibet, a rare display of Tibetan resistance is described. About 20 Tibetans formed a human shield around the statue before Chinese security forces dispersed them and went ahead with the demolition. One tourist told ICT:
"We heard a rumor that the army was going to destroy a large Buddha at the edge of town. From our vantage point it was clear that a group of perhaps 20 people were in fact in place around the Buddha [the Guru Rinpoche statue] forming a human shield. The mood was tense. [Later] a Tibetan woman pulled me aside. In broken English and with tears running down her face she said that the Chinese were no good - that they were going to destroy the Buddha - and that I should take pictures and get them to the Dalai Lama." The same Western tourist said that security police later stopped his tour group and accused them of taking pictures of the protest around the statue, and demanded to check the group’s cameras.
Their cameras did not contain pictures of the protest or the demolition itself. After they had seen the formation of the Tibetans' human shield around the statue, they left town on a tour for the day. When they returned, the Tibetans were gone and 80-100 security personel had taken up positions around the statue. Soon afterwards they could see that the top part of the statue was missing, and a while later the rest was demolished. According to the photo caption in Lobsang's slideshow of the original photos (linked above), demolition was carried out with explosives.

There seems to be an error in ICT's report, which states the stone image was about 6 feet tall. If you look at the full sized photos in Lobsang's set, it's clear that the base itself is about 4 metres tall, and the figure of Guru Rinpoche is probably another 9-10 metres.

This incident is not the first where Chinese authorities have ordered removal of outdoor religious statuary. In May of this year Chinese "People's Armed Police" demolished a 30-foot gold and copper representation of Guru Rinpoche at Samye monastery, Tibet's oldest monastic institution. That statue had been funded by Chinese Buddhists in Guangdong, and was nearing completion when it was destroyed. The Special Envoy of Dalai Lama, Lodi Gyari said at the time:
"This divisive and sacrilegious act by an atheist state has caused deep anguish among Tibetans in the region. It is particularly sad that the authorities destroyed the statue of a Buddhist leader who is revered by both Tibetans and Chinese. The Buddha Dharma has the potential to bring more Tibetan and Chinese people together, and so the demolition of the Guru Rinpoche statue at Samye is nothing less than an act of splittism."
Exactly right. The communists are doing just what they unjustifiably accuse Dalai Lama of doing, in their near-daily diatribes against him -- splitting Tibetans and Chinese apart. One local Tibetan told the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy at that time,
"Tibetans in Lhoka, particularly in Dranang County did not dare to challenge the officials openly but deep inside their heart, 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."
In a rare admission of the earlier demolition, the "Democratic Management Committee" of Samye Monastery came forwardly with a statement.
Samye Monastery made bold to erect a copper statue of Buddha Padmasambhava in the open air donated by a related enterprise's principal, which disobeyed the Law of the People's Republic of China on Protection of Cultural Relics and the Notice of Illegally Building Open Statue of Buddha jointly issued by the State Administration for Religious Affairs of People's Republic of China, Ministry of Construction of the People's Republic of China and China National Tourism Administration.

Samye Monastery then self moved the open-air statue forwardly.

Democratic Management Committee of Samye Monastery,
Lhoka Prefecture, Tibet Autonomous Region, China
June 8th, 2007
The "Democratic Management Committees" are Communist Party overseers placed within every religious institution in Tibet. Like I wrote here a few days ago, some people think the Cultural Revolution is over. It isn't.

When the fundamentalist Taliban regime in Afghanistan blew up the colossal Buddha statues at Bamiyan in March 2001, not only Buddhists around the world but many national governments protested vigorously. The Taliban justification was that the statues were "un-Islamic." Apparently Buddha images are now politically incorrect for China's ruling communists as well.

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