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A view of the Larung Gar Buddhist Academy in Sichuan (RFA listener)

Monastic leaders at a sprawling Tibetan Buddhist study center in southwestern China’s Sichuan province are urging calm as Chinese authorities prepare to tear down large sections of the complex, sources in the region say.

The move, which will reduce a large but still uncounted population of monks and nuns at the Larung Gar Buddhist Academy in Serthar (in Chinese, Seda) county to a maximum level of 5,000, is set to begin this month, one local source told RFA’s Tibetan Service.

“China’s plan for demolition and destruction will go into effect on July 25,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“It will begin with the nuns’ dwellings, as nine of those areas have been marked for action,” he said.  “The demolition crews will consist of Chinese soldiers and workers.”

Many thousands of Tibetans and Han Chinese study at Larung Gar, which was founded in 1980 by the late religious teacher Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok and is one of the world’s largest and most important centers for the study of Tibetan Buddhism.

Speaking recently to academy residents, senior monastic leaders Khenpo Tsultrim Lodroe and Khenpo Rigdar urged monks and nuns living at Larung Gar to remain calm, continue with their studies, and avoid taking part in protests.

“But if the situation gets out of control, and things become urgent, we will call the monks and nuns to another meeting and together arrive at a decision regarding what action will be best to take,” Khenpo Tsultrim Lodroe said in a recording obtained by RFA.

Lay supporters of the academy were similarly urged not to interfere with the work of demolition for fear of “repercussions” from Chinese authorities.

An earlier move by authorities to reduce Larung Gar’s size led in 2001 to the destruction of more than 1,000 dwellings and the expulsion of hundreds of monks and nuns, and a fire in January 2014 started probably by a faulty power line destroyed a further 100 houses.

The order now to reduce the number of residents at Larung Gar is not a county plan “but comes from higher authorities,” sources told RFA in earlier reports.

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