January 11, 2022 | Lopsang Gurung | Bitter Winter

The Chinese Communist Party continues to destroy megastatues of the Buddha, a visual reminder that people still believe in religion after decades of repression and atheistic propaganda.

The last victim of this campaign was a 30-meter (99-feet) tall statue of the Buddha in Drakgo (Ch. Luhuo). Drakgo is under the administration of Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture and is part of Kham, one of the regions of historical Tibet, now incorporated into the province of Sichuan.

The Drakgo area suffers frequent earthquakes, and one in 1973 killed thousands. The megastatue was built, with permission from local authorities, to protect the area from natural disasters, and inaugurated in 2015. It costed more than $6 million, collected among local Buddhists.

On December 12, 2021, the county authorities ordered the destruction of the megastatue, claiming (falsely) that it was built without authorization. They said that at any rate statues of such size are no longer allowed.

The destruction was carried out immediately, generating protests not only in Sichuan but even in Tibet Autonomous Region and among the Tibetan diaspora in Dharamsala.

The authorities also burned down prayer flags and destroyed 45 prayer wheels around the statue.

On October 31, in the same area the authorities had compelled local citizens to demolish Gedhen Nangten School, which was under the administration of Drakgo’s Ganden Rabten Namgyalling Buddhist Monastery and accommodated 130 students.