Weeks after the Chinese government demolished a massive 99-foot tall statue of the Buddha revered by Tibetans in the country’s Sichuan province, Chinese authorities have demolished a second statue.
The move is part of what Tibetan human rights activists are calling a targeted attack on Tibetans' religion and traditions, Radio Free Asia reported.
The organization was able to independently verify the destruction of the statue by analyzing commercial satellite imagery of a three-story statue of Maitreya Buddha at Gaden Namyal Ling monastery in Drago (Luhuo) county in the Kardze (Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture.
According to the publication, Chinese authorities tore down the second statue at the same time as the demolition of the 99-foot Buddha took place. Chinese authorities claim that the first statue was too tall, according to a Tibetan exile with contacts in the region.
“Chinese authorities have again given unbelievable reasons for the destruction, saying there was no fire escape in the temple housing the three-story high statue of Maitreya Buddha, but these aren’t valid excuses,” the source told RFA.
“The Chinese government is just continuing to Sinicize Tibet’s religion by not allowing Tibetans the freedom to practice their own religion and faith,” the source added, noting that Drago county chief Wang Dongsheng was present at the destruction of the statue.
The source alleged that the police brutally beat local Tibetans who protested the demolition.
“The brutal attacks on Tibetans still continue in Drago, and sources in Tibet say they have seen Wang Dongsheng taking part in these activities,” said a second source in exile to the RFA.
Both sources requested anonymity to protect the identities of their contacts in Drago.
Tenzin Lekshey, a spokesman for Tibet's government-in-exile, the Central Tibetan Administration in Dharamsala, said that China’s continued suppression of Tibetan’s religious freedom will complicate its ability to rule Tibetan areas of the country.
“This forceful behavior by the Chinese government in Drago clearly shows the government’s mistreatment of Tibetans and their religion, and the Central Tibetan Administration is very concerned about what is happening in Drago,” said the spokesman.