Source: Radio Free Asia
Chinese authorities have recently implemented a ban on the enrollment of new monks at the Khyungbum Lura Monastery located in Chamdo prefecture, eastern Tibet. This prohibition extends to individuals of all ages, marking a significant escalation in restrictions previously limited to minors under the age of 18. The move is seen as part of China's intensified regulation of religious activities, tightening its hold on Tibetan Buddhist practices.
The Khyungbum Lura Monastery, associated with the Gelug sect of Tibetan Buddhism, holds historical significance in Tibet's Kham region. This site, which houses over 80 monks, has faced prior challenges, having resisted the People's Liberation Army's incursion into Chamdo in the 1950s, leading to the destruction of much of the monastery.
Under the guise of enforcing the "Regulations on Religious Affairs," overseen by the National Religious Affairs Administration and the United Front Work Department, Chinese authorities have mandated stringent controls. These rules aim to limit religious activities in educational institutions and prevent Tibetans from joining monasteries before reaching 18 years of age.
To ensure compliance, authorities have appointed a local administrator to oversee the monastery, disrupting its traditional operational structure managed by senior monks. Any failure to adhere to these regulations may result in the monastery's closure, causing significant concern among local Tibetan residents.
The ban on new monk enrollments is anticipated to have long-term repercussions, potentially leading to the decline and eventual closure of the monastery. This action threatens to deprive local Tibetans of essential places of worship during significant religious events and diminishes access to spiritual guidance during crucial life moments, such as mourning rituals.
This latest restriction aligns with China's ongoing efforts to diminish the influence and size of Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, which have long been integral to Tibetan cultural identity. Recent regulations also emphasize the alignment of religious practices with President Xi Jinping's vision of "Sinicization of religion," emphasizing adaptation to China's socialist ideology.
Notably, this ban echoes previous incidents, such as the removal of young monks from Jowo Ganden Shedrub Palgyeling Monastery in 2018 and the forced departure of young Tibetan monks from various provinces since the updated regulations on religious affairs were released in 2017.
The broader implications of these restrictions raise concerns about the sustained suppression of Tibetan Buddhist practices and the potential erasure of key elements of Tibetan cultural heritage.
Edited and collated by Team TRC