By Tsering Dolma, Global Order, 16 January 2022
It has been twenty years since the bombing of the giant Bamiyan Buddha statues by the Taliban in 2001. This not only hurt the sentiments of millions of Buddhists around the world, it also coincided with the quick collapse of the Taliban regime and two decades of continous chaos and conflict in Afghanistan.
Unfortunately, another giant statue, a 99-feet tall Buddha statue in Tibet was destroyed on 12th December 2021, not by the Taliban, but by the Chinese government. The statue was built by and with the contribution of the local community of Drango in eastern Tibet after securing all necessary permissions from the local Chinese government. The primary reason for the construction of the giant Buddha was a collective decision by the community to invoke divine benevolence to prevent further natural disasters as the region witnessed unprecedented number of forest fires, earthquakes, floods and landslides in recent years. According to reliable sources, prior to the destruction of the statue, the Chinese government also forcefully demolished a school that provided education to around a hundred students in the region and tore down 45 Buddhist prayer wheels.
This is utterly contrary to the Chinese government’s claim of religious freedom in Tibet and is a signal for more religious repression across Tibet. The destruction carried by the two Chinese county chiefs in the region where the statue was brought down has deeply hurt the cultural and religious sentiments of all Tibetans, deepening their permanent sense of fear and loathing towards the Chinese.