In Tibet as a whole, and especially at Kirti monastery in Amdo Ngaba, the Chinese government not only continues to enforce a strict crackdown, but is trying to wipe out the monastery by expelling monks and imprisoning them.
Kirti monastery is a major centre of the Gelukpa school in southern Amdo. It was founded in 1870 by the 8th Kirti Rinpoche Je Losang Trinle Konchok Tenpa Gyatso, and comprises four colleges for the study of Sutra and Mantra aspects of the Buddhist teachings: the philosophy college, upper Tantric college, Kalacakra college and medical college. At present there are over 2500 monks, making it one of the largest monasteries inside Tibet.
Since the Red Army entered the region, twice in 1935, in the course of its ‘Long March’, and caused a famine the likes of which had never been experienced by the Ngaba people, there has been a terrible history of suicide, mass starvation and so on, as the ordinary people both lay and monastic were subjected to killing, beating, imprisonment and forced labour under successive campaigns from ‘Democratic Reform’ [1958-60] to the ‘Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution’ [1966-70] to ‘Patriotic Religion’ [1996 to the present], leaving a deep wound in the hearts of the Tibetan people.
In 2008, when there was a massive peaceful protest movement against the Chinese government all across Tibet, the monks and laypeople of Ngaba county, and especially Kirti monastery, protested peacefully and were suppressed by the Chinese army. On a single day, more than 20 Tibetan protesters were killed, and a great many imprisoned.
On February 27th 2009 when the Kirti monk Tape la set himself on fire in protest against the government, shouting slogans and so forth, Chinese soldiers fired on him, seriously wounding him, and arrested him. It is still not known whether he is dead or alive.
Since the Kirti monk Puntsok la set himself on fire on March 16th 2011, for the sake of Tibet’s religious and political freedom, the monastery has been and still is under tight military blockade. In the early hours of April 22nd, over 300 monks were forcibly removed from the monastery and taken elsewhere, and this is thought to be continuing. The monastery is under the strict control of armed soldiers day and night, and there is not the slightest freedom. The government is implementing its aim of wiping out the monastery in a planned way. If a large monastic centre of Buddhist studies with 2500 monks gets wiped out, it will be a severe loss not just for related communities in the Ngaba region, but for all Tibetans and for the world.
Those of us with a special relation with Kirti monastery, the exile branch of the monastery in Dharamsala [Himachal Pradesh], and the Kirti monastery in Darjeeling [West Bengal] are staging a ‘monastic procession’ or devotional march from Dharamsala to Delhi to attract attention to the Buddhist monastic community, and particularly the impending destruction of Ngaba Kirti monastery. At the same time, we are putting three demands to foreign governments and the Chinese government:
1. An emergency appeal to lovers of peace and truth the world over, governments, parliaments, non-governmental organisations and especially our co-religionists in both East and West to launch an emergency campaign to rescue Kirti monastery from repression by the Chinese government;
2. The young reincarnation of the Panchen Lama, Tibetan prisoners of conscience in general, and especially prisoners from the Ngaba region such as the Kirti monks Losang Tsondru and Losang Dargye must be swiftly released;
3. The Chinese government must grant the Tibetan people human rights, freedom of expression and religious freedom, so that monasteries of all denominations can pursue the observance and propagation of their religion freely.
May governments and private citizens who respect truth and love peace, and all peoples at home and abroad grant their valued support to the truth of our cause.
Kirti monastery in exile
April 22nd 2011