Excerpts from Wounds of Three Generations,
Kirti monastery in exile, 2010
Kirti monastery in exile, 2010
Translated by Matthew Akester
Dzorgé / Ruorgai county
Taktsang Lhamo monastery
In the period 1949-58, as the Chinese government prepared for its violent enforcement of control throughout Tibet, announcing throughout the land that “reform” would have to be implemented, events unfolded at Taktsang Lhamo in the following way:
In August 1958, the nearly 1000 monks were taken to Méchu township (Xiang), 60 km south of the monastery, as were people from nearby villages like Tama Kyi, Kachukha, Bo, Tsadé Dongkha etc. They were made to stay in tents group by group, and large numbers of soldiers and officials surrounded the place to control their movements, depriving them of any freedom of movement from then on. They were followed by soldiers even when they went to the toilet. Then all the heads of dormitories and adminstration and any monks involved with finance were taken back to the monastery, and made to produce all the cash, which was taken away. Those sections with no money or property to hand over were put to cutting grass meanwhile. The remaining property of the detained administrators was shared out among the poor.
For about two months at Méchu township they held frequent meetings on ‘Revolutionary education’ and the meaning of the ‘Three Red Flags’ and so on, and those who could not accept whatever they said were beaten, criticised and abused in front of the people’s assembly day and night. Unable to bear this, the Alak Lingba Khenpo Gyaltsan-tsang threw himself into the Méchu river one night, and immediately soldiers came and fired into the water where he had jumped. 50 year old Aku Lokho, the manager of Kirti Nangwa, asked to go to the toilet one night, and while being escorted along the way by soldiers he suddenly jumped into the Méchu. The Kirti monastery disciplinarian Aku Lobha of Kachukha, and Garsar Aku Tandzin both committed suicide by jumping into the Méchu. Konchok Drutruk of Kachukha, the representative for Kirti Nangwa, died from the beating and torture he received in detention....(list of senior monks imprisoned and killed in that period).
(List of senior monks arrested)
Another group, judging that there was no way to continue studying at the monastery, managed to return to their homes.
After the ordeal of about two months at Méchu Xiang, the monks who returned to the monastery were no more than about 400 out of almost 1000. They continued to have ‘revolutionary education’ meetings there. The main purpose of these meetings was to ‘struggle’ and criticise the senior monks, monastery administrators, those learned in religion and worldly matters, those who had made great contributions to the monastery, those with loyalty to their people and religion. They were told “You ordinary monks and masses have been exploited, oppressed and deceived by them, and now through the kindness of the CP your enemies have been delivered to you to do as you will”, but the ordinary monks had no issue to settle with them, rather they insisted that they had done nothing but good for the monastery and society. The officials cursed them saying “You are harbouring evil intentions to rebel against the CP!” Next day, those who had refused to criticise were made to stand up in front of all the monks, divided into four groups, and the Chinese officials, and were themselves accused, and told to confess their error. One old Lama called Aku Sugnyan who was extremely humble and frugal looked the officials in the eye and told them “The laws and policies of the Chinese state are not something I know how to swallow”, and he was beaten mercilessly in front of the assembly, and later taken to Tagtsa prison, where he was tortured to death.
The situation at that time, when the merest word against the Party line was enough to earn a death sentence, is still with us now in 21st century Tibet, if one recalls Gebsang, a monk of Namtso monastery in Ngaba who was killed on April 3rd 2008 (local people believe he was beaten to death by Chinese soldiers), Néchung of Cha Ruwa who died on April 17th 2008 (female: beaten to death in detention) or Patsal Kyap of Nagtsangma who died on May 24th 2008 (beaten to death in detention).
Back then, the officials maintained that the policy and practice of the CP was absolutely superior and excellent compared to the old society, and have continued to say so until now, and it has not turned out to be so in reality. Thus the most distinguished and respected monk scholars were singled out by the ‘revolutionary education’ campaign, and many of them died under the most frightful and completely merciless torture and abuse.
In the winter of 1959, an additional force of Chinese soldiers came to the monastery and plundered the sacred images and scriptures, gold and silver, brocades and fine cloth, grain, precious materials, gilt copper items, tea, butter and cheese, antique objects and precious furs from the Labrang, all the wealth accumulated over the previous five or six generations, and made the monks transport it all to the Chinese army camp in the new town next to the monastery over the next five days. They walked between two rows of armed soldiers. Kirti Labrang was reputed to have a lump of silver the size of a boulder in its treasury. Anyway the sacred objects were prized only for their material value, and even then they were worth millions of Chinese Yuan. The previous year, the 11th Kirti Rinpoché had travelled to Lhasa with hundreds of thousands of silver coins and hundreds of horseshoes of silver to offer to the Sera, Drepung and Ganden monasteries, and as the pack animals to carry it all were being prepared, the Sichuan provincial government had said that this was a very arduous way of transporting so much wealth, and also very vulnerable to theft and bandit attacks, and that it would be better if the government helped by transporting it in trucks by road. They insisted both sweetly and harshly, until there was no way not to entrust it to them, but once it was taken down through Chengdu, they said that it was illegal to transport such a large quantity of silver to Lhasa and the central government would not give permission. In the end, they confiscated all the horseshoes and 55% of the coin as tax. Later, the remaining 45% was handed over in Lhasa - only 1,300,000 silver coins. 1,580,000 had been taken in Chengdu…
Then one day in 1959, they gathered all the monks and the officials told them that if they didn’t want the sacred images and offering receptacles in the temples to come to any harm, they had better hand over all the gilt copper utensils and objects in their individual residences. The monks could not see reason in this, but since the innumerable sacred objects in the temples were of much greater value and blessing than anything they possessed, they readily handed over their precious pots, ladles, offering utensils and so on in the faint hope that the temple contents might be spared. The monks had nothing but a clay pot and clay bowl each left in their rooms, but the Party officials still tried to collect tax from them. Meanwhile they kept ordering that the monks remaining in the monastery had to return to their homes. The monks stayed firm for some time, but one day the officials came and ordered all the younger monks to go for grass cutting in Tama, and sent off more than 200 of them. When they came back, the officials said they had to go work on the roads, and all the monks went to do road building work. When it was done they came back to the monastery, then one day many officials came and called a meeting. They announced that just a few elderly monks would remain there as caretakers, but no-one else was allowed to remain. The main assembly hall was to be their place of worship, but none of the other temples or assembly halls were to be used. At that point most of the monks saw that there was little hope, and after the officials had finished, they asked that the Déyang hall in the Labrang should also be used. The Déyang and the main assembly had the most precious contents and were of most concern. From that time, all the other temples, the Lamas’ residences and over 300 monastic residences were seized by the Chinese government and denied to the monkhood.
Many of the younger monks openly refused to leave the monastery, to the faces of the officials, and soon after (list of names) were taken at gunpoint to the army camp on the field below the monastery. The elder monks then spontaneously gathered there and agreed to leave the monastery if these monks were released unharmed. They had no choice but to accede to the officials’demands, through the unfailing power of Karma. The arrested monks were sent back, and then there was no alternative but to go, leaving just a few old monks in charge. Fortunately this coincided with the arrival of some local officials (list of names), and the senior monks conferred with them and arranged for monks from areas in Gansu and those without family to be resettled in households in Kachukha. At that time, the arrest of monks and former leaders was even worse in Gansu than Sichuan, so they could not return there. The monks dispersed to communities in Zaru, Shagdom, Tama Kyi and so on, and despite the harsh policies, they continued to hold Puja-s on holy days or for the sick and deceased in secret.
The remaining old monk caretakers werre not permitted to remain for long. One day some officials and soldiers came, and told the two proletarian local officials there, Lhasapa Lémar and Tsakho Migmar, that the remaining monks were to be arrested, and the monastery obliterated, and they had to help. The two old monks conferred together that evening, foresaw their arrest and destruction of the monastery, decided it would be better to kill themselves, and went and hanged themselves from trees in the forest nearby.
Still, the officials continued with their campaign of arrest and imprisonment. (List of names) were bound and beaten, subjected to unthinkably brutal ‘struggle’, and eventually died in prison, (list of names) were imprisoned in Dzorgé county prison. Then no-one remained to look after the monastery. The remaining precious contents were taken by the government, and then the surrounding villagers were called in to carry off the rest. The monk dormitories weer occupied by local villagers, and the timbers from the assembly halls and temples were used for the newly constructed Xiang government offices and meeting hall.
From 1960-65, some like Aku Tandzin of Sewo Rong continued to teach scripture in secret to those with bonds of trust and devotion. Occasionally at meetings, former monks would be questioned as to why they had not married, and some like Aku Ka-ten were forced to sleep with women. Some arranged with women to maintain the appearance of married life, and even play acted when officials came at night time to check on them.
Other monasteries in Dzorgé
Jammé (Byams me)
Democratic Reform began on August 5th 1958 at Jammé monastery. The 507 monks were sent back to the village. At the end of 1959 a ‘follow up anti-feudal campaign’ was launched. Monks and Lama-s of any administrative or religious status and many well to do people were imprisoned. Innumerable clay statues were smashed in a hail of stones, scriptures burned, and anti-religious revolutionary activists did whatever they felt like.
Tangkor (Thang skor)
This was one of the strongest divisions (gShog ka) in mDzod dge. In 1956, the Communists accused them of harbouring KMT soldiers and officials, and one night they surrounded the entire settlement and attacked. Many people fled to the hills led by the community chief Palchen Wangchuk, and fought back, but they were outnumbered, and many of the leading personages in Tangkor (list of names) were shot down.
When the Democratic Reform campaign was vigorously imposed in 1958, the Chinese soldiers surrounded a place called Kachu Nayak (rKa chu’i nags yag) one day and demanded that they surrender. They refused, and in the ensuing struggle...
Gyalgé (rGyal dge) monastery
Gyalgé Tashi Rabten Ling was founded in the 16th century by Rarong Chödrak Gyamtso. It belongs to Géluk school, and it is one of the oldest in the 12 Shokka (gShog ka). There were about 30 monks before 1950.
From 1958 like other monasteries it suffered a terrible fate of dispossession, but that cannot be recorded here blow by blow. In 1960 the Gyalgé Tulku was arrested and subjected to ‘struggle’ and torture. He fled to Chakar Chukol (Chag gar chu khol) to escape and passed away there, unable to return to Kyangtsa (rKyang tsha).
(List of monks in a group of innocent people massacred in April 1958 by Chinese soldiers.)
Tringwa township (’Bring ba xiang)
From the beginning of the 9th month, they started Democratic Reform for the pastoralists of Zaru (gZa’ ru ’brog pa) and Achipa (A skyid pa), and for all of Lhamo (lHa mo) side. At that time the campaign was being vigorously implemented in Chöjé Nangwa (Chos rje nang ba), agricultural areas of Zaru (gZa’ ru rong pa) and Tsongru (Tshong ru), so most of the county officials were deployed in Chöjénang and Dongné townships (gDong sne xiang/qu). They deliberately tried to divide Tibetans along class lines and create contradictions among them. For instance, in Dongné, they first held a meeting for those categorised as ‘proletarian’ and told them “Until now, you people have suffered endless abuse at the hands of the Lama-s, lords, chiefs and the wealthy. From today, the cloud of suffering has been lifted. Now you have your chance to take revenge against any of the Lama-s who exploited you, the lords who oppressed you and unjustly punished you, expropriated your cattle and property, the local chiefs and big cattle owners who swindled you for profit. The CP and nation are behind you!”, and they held meetings for more than 20 days calling on them to respond. (List of individuals) named respected people in the monasteries and each Shokka and falsely accused them, and they were taken to public meetings in the county and to Zaru, Tsongru and Tring ba townships, where ordinary people were forced to denounce them. The same happened within the Déwa (village communities - sDe ba). This carried on from 1958 until the end of 1960...
The method of ‘struggle’ at that time: Tibetans accused as ‘feudal oppressors’ had their hands tied behind their back, and a tall paper hat placed on their head. Their supposed crime was written on a board hanging around the neck. They were made to stand humbly in front of so-called ‘proletarians’ with head bowed. Then a Chinese official on the stage would recite slogans like “Feudal oppressors, landlords and the bourgeoisie have been overthrown!”, “May Mao Zedong live for 10,000 years!”, “May the CCP rule for 10,000 years!” The assembled ‘masses’ were supposed to repeat these. So-called “progressives” who had been taken in by the Chinese would come shouting abuse, spitting in the face of the accused, slapping and punching them, pushing them on the floor and kicking them, threatening them with guns, or beating them with the butt of a rifle and other inhumane mistreatment. ‘Class enemies” did not have the right to talk to ordinary people. They were not allowed to walk where “the people” walked, but had to stay on the edge, and could not look anyone in the eye or talk, but had to look down. In short, they had to behave as outcasts, and this was to make them feel insecure.
... When there was a sheep to slaughter they deliberately made former monks or those secretly practising religion do it. In the evening ‘struggle’ meetings, those who failed to criticise religion and the Lama-s were made to stand up, and told that they still had old thoughts in their heads and were criticised and beaten.
There were many kinds of political ‘hats’: one for believing in religion, one for Lama-s and chiefs, one for counter-revolutionaries, one for bourgeois class etc.
Hatted people had no freedom of movement. Every day in the early morning before going to work they had to report to local leaders where they were going and why, and report back on their return at evening. They could not go anywhere without the leaders’ permission. Communist officials held meetings at the end of every month in which they would minutely assess the behaviour of hatted individuals, their thoughts and behaviour, their work record, and those selected for criticism were made to stand in front of the masses with their hands bound behind their heads, looking down, and the masses were encouraged to beat and abuse them. They had no right to speak in their defence, and had to bear the injustice in silence. Even now 50 years later, this has never been redressed, the policy of the Chinese government continues to operate through punishment and reward, and among Tibetans there is no-one who does not recognise this as a lingering wound in our minds.
In 1958 a group of Chinese officials came to Chakrong (Chags rong) monastery in Tsongru and assembled all the monks, young and old, and subjected them to intense criticism and beating. On the pretext of ‘reform’ and ‘peaceful liberation’ they attacked and cursed religion as superstition, trampling Tibetan tradition and custom underfoot, and upholding Party policy as the sole good. Many monks were imprisoned and not released. Aku Tandzin and two others died of torture in prison, and the former abbot Alak Bélotsang (mKhan po A lags Bhe lo tshang) hid out in Gurtö (Gur stod) that year but in ’59 when they started searching he dared not remain and fled to Zaru pastures. The Chinese soldiers arrested him and beat him, and for several months he was imprisoned. They questioned him under torture, and he died there, without giving a single answer to their questions.
... In 1958, as in the rest of Amdo, the Chinese staged their armed suppression for real, and began the Democratic Reform campaign. Initially they had everyone attend a meeting at Méchu bridge where Chinese officials and many soldiers gave speeches about the need for ‘reform’. The main target of these speeches was the bourgeois class enemies, ruling families and Lama-s and monk administrators in each Shokka. They saw Tibetan unity as the main obstacle to acheiving their ends, so they set out to use some mindless Tibetan lackeys to create division and conflict within the community. In Zaru also, many Tibetans were arrested on the charge of being feudal oppressors or bourgeois class enemies, and other names, subjected to fierce’struggle’ and eventually imprisoned and put to forced labour in the county.
Tagtsa (sTag tsha) monastery
Democratic Reform began on August 21 1958, and religious activity ended then. Monks were sent back to their villages. During Democratic Reform and later the Cultural Revolution, the temples and assembly hall were largely destroyed, both contents and structures. The 6th Tagtsa Tulku Kalsang Jigmé Tenpé Gyaltsan was arrested age 32 and sentenced to life in prison. For the first three years he underwent much suffering in the county prison. At the age of 37 he was taken to Barkham. In 1967 they took him to Wenchuan, where he was made head of the study and hygiene committee. He also worked as a tailor. In 1970 he was taken to Maowun to do thought reform and metalwork. After 18 years in prison, his sentence expired, he was allowed to leave the prison for work, and gradually to do less heavy labour. In 1979 when he was 54 he was released and returned home, and did the ordinary work of a layman. He was arrested with 32 other monks, but their names are not known.
As for the monasteries, at most of them, like Gomang in Ngaba, the younger monks were forced by soldiers, some by officials, some having been made to rejoin the lay community, and some 40 monasteries were destroyed. The assembly halls were used as the offices of the cooperatives, as workplaces or grain stores. The assembly hall at Ngaba Kirti housed the so-called ‘Religious affairs office’ and some 60 monks stayed there. Some other assembly halls and temple buildings survived, but these were occupied by Chinese who used them to raise pigs and chickens. That is why, a few years ago, there were still Chinese households inside the boundary walls of some former monasteries who could not be expelled...
In 1958, as in the rest of Tibet, its precious contents were destroyed or looted. This is beyond any accounting, but in brief: from the beginning of the 7th lunar month (Aug-Sept) many meetings were held, and on the 9th day the doors of the temples and assembly hall were closed, and the monks made to wear lay clothing. Most of the younger ones were driven into the army, and the older ones were made to bring vacant land under cultivation, working day and night as ‘reform through labour’. Over 60 of the better off residences, mainly the ‘Nangchen’, were entirely dispossessed by the state, down to the last needle and thread. Then on the 3rd day of the 9th month (Oct-Nov), after being made to hand over all the offering utensils in the temples and shrines, the caretakers were relieved of the keys, and not a single monk was allowed to remain inside the complex. All were sent back to their native places to do labour. The main hall was turned into a temporary trade office, while the Gyutö and Dukhor assembly halls and Damchen protector chapel were used as grain stores by the Upper Ngaba township administration (rNga stod xiang). In 1960 people living outside the monastery were brought in to occupy the former monks quarters. In the whirlwind of ‘Democratic Reform’ about 70 monks died under Chinese persecution, and many took their own lives (list of names), but this is just a fragment of the history that we have not found in full.
Jé Tsongkhapa’s disciple Tsakho Ngawang Drakpa founded 108 monasteries including Khashul Ritang hermitage, reestablished as a monastery in the 18th century by Sharpa Chojé Khashul Ponlop Ngawang Puntsok after graduating from Drepung, with a grant from the 7th Dalai Lama. The curriculum was based on Gyutö college.
Chinese Communists began destroying it in October 1959. At that time there were 170 monks. Even before destroying it they had used the assembly hall for marriage ceremonies, theatre performances etc. The assembly hall and kitchen were completely destroyed, the timbers used for firewood, the Chinese used the pillars and beams to construct their ‘cooperative’ building. Most of the village centres in Ngaba had one. The remains of the walls were used to build cattle sheds and slaughter houses etc.
They also destroyed the shrines to Guru Rinpoché and Hayagriva in the monastery compound, but as they were destroying Hayagriva the Chinese leaders had dreams of their bodies catching fire and couldn’t sleep, and so they did not dare to completely destroy the shrine and the remains are still there now.
In October 1958, the head of the monastery, the 4th Sharpa Chojé Khashul Ponlop Tsultrim Gyatso, then aged 40, was denounced by the Communists as a reactionary and exploiter and imprisoned. After 5 months of torture and beating he died in March 1959, on the 11th day of the Tibetan new year. The 6th Pata Chögyen Jamyang Tandzin was ‘struggled’ and beaten in December 1958 and eventually imprisoned as a reactionary and oppressor. He spent 15 years enduring Reform through Labour. In 1974 when he was 58 he was released but suddenly died under the threat of re-arrest. This was a lineage of great teachers who were close to the Kirti Rinpoché-s, served as Kirti Khenpo and were in charge of the Mama nunnery in upper Ngaba.
All the monks and all the well-off householders were given ‘class enemy’ black hats and turned out of their homes, and these were given to the “proletariat”, Party officials, or used as Chinese offices. (List of dispossessed families).
Not only were monks disrobed, even ordinary people were not allowed to recite Mani or carry a rosary or perform rites for the dead, and anyone caught doing so would be ‘struggled’, beaten and imprisoned (as all over Tibet at that time).
People were made to struggle against their own Lama, teacher, parents, relatives etc or if others were struggling those people, their students, children, relatives etc were made to watch and approve, to sing and dance with joy.
(Forced to commit acts of sexual depravity, former monks forced to sleep with women etc.)
Amchog Tsennyi monastery
The PLA started to arrive in 1952 and to begin with they beguiled local people with nice talk and set up small shops. Gradually, with smooth talk hiding evil intent, they started to behave badly, and eventually in 1958 they arrested the senior Lamas and local leaders and launched an all-out assault. That year they ‘struggled’, beat and killed (list of monks). At that time there was a big meeting of soldiers and officials, and they put a group of 50 or more Tibetans in prison in Ngaba county. All but a few were taken from one prison to another and beaten to death or died of hunger. Also that year, five leading members of the community, Tenpa Gyatso, manager of Amchog Gar, Ramgön, Rador, Hurlang and Tenkyong were followed by a truck full of soldiers to the Letung pass on the road that passes Wonpo-tsang and murdered. They buried their corpses. No one knew where they were for 20 odd days after until someone from Mékor found out. Later the army admitted it.
Hundreds of people, including Aku Pakpalha and others of Tsennyi monastery, and Ajam and others of lower Ngaba, were taken to Nagormo (Ge’ermu) and Tsadam (Qaidam) in Qinghai. Only about 12 of them ever returned. The temples and assembly hall were all destroyed in the spring of 1959. Statues were smashed and scriptures burned. Monks were not allowed to stay in the monastery but sent back to their villages to do farming or herding. In 1960, Alak Tsatsang was beaten to death in public.
In 1958 a large group of pilgrims including Kushang Tulku had gone to visit Lhasa. On their return they were arrested at Golok Matö (Madoi), and all the things they had bought in Lhasa were confiscated. The Lamas, chiefs and wealthy among them were imprisoned and sentenced in Qinghai. Alak Kushang-tsang was sentenced to 20 years, his father Walshul Wanggyal to life imprisonment. Others (list of names) were imprisoned in Xining. Wanggyal and others were killed in prison, others were released due to a change of policy in 1961.
Tsodün Kirti monastery
The Ganden Tashi Chöling monastery in Tsodün village had 500+ monks before Democratic Reform. During the destruction and struggle of the 1950s, elder monks were not allowed to remain at the monastery, and younger ones were forced to take local women as wives at a meeting in the People’s assembly in the village and to sleep with them the same night. Quite a few monks threw themselves in the river rather than lose their vows.
The monastery assembly was not destroyed, and put to use as a government office, but the precious contents were entirely destroyed. The Stupa-s in the monastery compound and the residence of Kirti Kyabgön were destroyed with explosives. A large quantity of precious furnishings, including the large wall-mounted canvas paintings of the Buddhajataka stories were looted and destroyed. Likewise the contents of the Maitreya temple were all destroyed. Very little of this has been restored as of now.
When freedom of religion was restored (after 1979), only the assembly hall (which was used as a granary) and a few monks’ dormitory buildings remained, and the monastery was like an empty shell.
Excerpt from My Homeland and Peaceful Liberation by Jado Rinsang
2 Aku Tanpa’s account (p.27-31)
In 1958, twenty or so Lamas from Treldzong monastery, including Arol Rinpoché, were taken to attend a meeting in the county town, and did not come back. On May 15th of that year, 15 or more soldiers showed up outside the monastery, called together a few of the elder monks and told them “Last night a group of 15 or more bandits slipped inside the monastery, and you are hiding them. You had better hand them over to us, and if you don’t, the monastery will be closed down.”
The old monks explained that there were none, but they refused to listen. They came back and threatened the whole monastic community that the Lama Rinpoché and the monastery would come to unbearable harm, that if they were hiding (rebel) bandits, they had better hand them over, but in truth there was not even one such person there, so what could they hand over?
In order to convince each other, the monks swore an oath (that they were not hiding anyone) while holding the door handle of the protector chapel, and when it turned out so, they realised that they (the soldiers) were just looking for a pretext. They told the soldiers, but they remained sceptical, and left saying they would close down the monastery that night.
As soon as night fell, there was sporadic gunfire from the mountains to either side, and the peak of the mountain behind the monastery, which gradually became constant. A few likeminded ones got together, saying that “the story about hiding bandits was their pretext to destroy the monastery, now heaven knows we are helpless, we can never turn against the Lama and the monastery”, and so on. The guns blasted holes in every door and window, and everyone was terrified. At 11 pm that night, the sky was lit up with electric flashes of different colours. None of (the monks) knew what they were, and were startled. Then they announced that everyone had to assemble, and they gathered in a large stable in the Kuchok Lama’s residence (Nangchen). There were also 80+ hermits from Rebkong staying at the monastery. Altogether there were more than 300 Lamas and monks gathered there. That night the soldiers surrounded the monastery and stayed put. There were 15 of them on each side, pointing Khrang hrun guns. They set up a large cannon on the roof of the Lama’s residence. Everyone was thinking that now everything would inevitably be destroyed, could think or say nothing else, and were not even able to speak. (The soldiers) searched all the monastic residences and Lamas residences, and piled up everything on one side. The soldiers surrounded the monastery for a few days, blocking the roads in and out to keep local people away.
Those who had reached the monastery were not allowed to leave again. One day, a group of 90+ Lamas and monks whose names were on their list, most notably Kulo Khagya-tsang (name of a Lama?) were arrested. All the monks were held in the stables and given nothing to eat or drink for six straight days. One day they were given ice with a little poor quality Tsampa to drink. Some of the officials arrogantly told them “How do you feel now? Up to now you had food on your plates and carpets to sit on. How is your life now?”, and other hateful things.
After ten days, they made to take them off to prison, and tied them together by the neck in groups of ten. Some courageous ones refused to pass the boundary wall, for the sake of the Lama and the monastery, so the soldiers executed 19 Lamas and monks, chiefly Kulo Khagya, in a single day. Some of the monks tied in groups of ten were killed, but instead of untying them they had the others drag their corpses along, and bury them outside the monastery. Kulo Khagya was killed at Tashi Latsa. A Stupa has now been built on the spot. Those individually executed in the Kuchok residence were brought up to Tashi Latsa. Visitors to the monastery were not allowed to leave, and a few were killed. Apparently this was to keep word of the soldiers’ blockade from getting out. They loaded up more than 400 Yak loads of gold, silver and fine cloth from the Kuchok residence. When they executed the head chantmaster Jinpa-tsang, he turned his face towards the holy mountain (behind the monastery) and loudly intoned the prayer “May I hereby take on all the sins, defilements and sufferings of all mother sentient beings without exception” as he died. They made the two stewards of the Kuchok residence, Chödzin and Palden, remove their monk vests and sliced them with a knife, cutting their flesh into pieces. They accused them of not handing over their weapons to “the people”. They were covered in blood and wounds. Eventually they took them to prison disfigured with blood. A month later, in order to carry the monastery property off to China, they ordered the nomad communities in the area to come to Treldzong monastery for transport duty, and many farmers and nomads came there leading a lot of horses and Dzo. When they got there they realised it was a deceitful show, but could do nothing. All of them were detained there for a few days in fear and terror, and once the stores of the monastery and Lama residences had been gone through, they loaded up over a thousand pack animals, mules, horses and Dzo, with gold and silver, brocades and silks and so on, and took them off through Xinghai (rTsi gor thang) county town to no-one knows where...
The closure of Ragya monastery, from Kusho Damcho Palsang’s History of Golok
(’Gu log gi lo rgyus gNyan po g.yu rtse’i bsang dud vol.2 p.372-4)
On June 8th 1958 they arrested Chödrak, the manager of the Shingsa Tulku’s residence (Shing bza’ sgar ba), and took him to jail. Then on July 7th, 700 monks were arrested and confined in the Shingsa Garwa, and for two days, the Lamas, Tulkus and monastery officials, and staff of the Lamas’ residences, were beaten and interrogated. On the 10th, the monks were lined up and marched off to prison in the place they called Tongde Xian (Gepasumdo). The elderly and those unable to walk were killed where they fell along the way. Umdzé Olak, the chantmaster of Menpa Dratsang college was stabbed with a knife, and when this didn’t kill him, he was shot. A few soldiers led by commander Khapo Ko-drang pulled out knives in a fit of rage and cut quite a few Lamas to pieces, such as the Tsokchen Lama Jampal and Aka Rinpoché’s steward Gyamtso, impaling their (hearts?) on their bayonets.
On August 10th, all the prisoners, monks and laypeople, were loaded into trucks and taken to Xining prison. There was a high pass to cross along the way, and at the bottom, the prisoners were forced to walk up. The wounded and those unable to walk were tied to the back of the truck and dragged, and most were killed. At the Lungjagon prison in Xining they were made to do ‘Reform through labour’ and 80% died of starvation. The Lamas, Tulkus and chiefs were made to dispose of the city’s waste, and were subjected to ‘struggle’ and physical abuse meanwhile.
According to an official publication titled ‘Historical archives of Ma-chen county’, there were only 1,300 monks and 389 permanently resident monks before 1958, 29 Lamas and Tulkus, 12 assembly halls and temples, 21 Lamas’ residences and hundreds of monk cells. This is a fabrication, as it is known that there were 1,800 monks at that time. When religion was partially reinstated in 1962, there were no more than 40 monks, and the few sacred images and books that had been hidden were kept, only to be later destroyed by the Red Guards during the Cultural Revolution...
Excerpt from Joys and sorrows of a Naktsang Kid by Naktsang Nulo
(Kha ba dkar po edition p.232-42)
Chapter 51: The misery of surrender, the onset of calamity
It rained last night, and this morning the earth is soft and the hills shimmering, the sun very warm. As the mist rises on the Tashi Choeling meadow in front of the monastery, masses of autumn flowers, yellow, white, red and green, reach towards the sun, and their fragrance pervades the air. The different voices birds and insects can be heard, and we get on with the ups and downs of our life. As before, I boil tea, and call “Wake up, father, and have tea.”
Father replies “O-ya. Has Ané Karto brought some butter and cheese?”
“Yesterday. Now she has brought some milk too. I made milk tea today”, I reply.
At that point, Abu Japé came in the front door all agitated, saying “Father! Father, the Red Chinese are at the river bank. There is no assembly today, they are saying we have to put on a ceremonial procession to welcome the Chinese.”
Father got up. “That’s right”, he said. “The monastery is surrendering, and it’s sure to end in disaster.”
“Father”, I asked, “Does surrender mean they will be killed?”
“Not killed, but it means the monastery will be destroyed.”
Abu Japé said “Jangjuk the disciplinarian says if we surrender the monastery will not be destroyed, but if we don’t, people will be killed, property looted and the monastery destroyed.”
“Have pity!”, father replied, “Our Tibet is so naieve! If they didn’t want to destroy the monastery, what would they come here for? They say Labrang monastery has already been destroyed. They are not going to leave our little hen coop of a monastery standing.”
Abu Japé told me “Drink up! Then let’s go look at the Chinese soldiers.”
“Abu Japé”, I asked him, “Are these soldiers the ones from Labrang, or are they the Liberation Army that came to our monastery last year?”
“No. Those were the soldiers of Chairman Mao, the king of the Liberation Army. Those who have come today are the demon army of the cursed Red Chinese.”
“Won’t they arrest us?”, I asked.
“They won’t do anything to children”, said father, “But don’t get too close.”
Then Abu Japé and I went out. At Gyazor Tögo of lower Chölung, many people stood watching the bank of the Ma-chu river. In the monastery and all the surroundings, people were milling around to no purpose. When we reached Tögo, the soldiers all dressed in yellow were lined up on the far bank preparing to cross the river.
Someone said “They are going to swim across”, and another, “Boatman Lochö didn’t offer his services to the Red Chinese today.”
An old man said “Friends, it is not good to stand here. The Chinese might think we are defending the hilltop and fire at us”, so most people went down to the foot of the hill. Abu and I stayed watching on top. Then a few shots were fired on the far side, and all the soldiers linked arms and jumped into the river. Not long after, they started to climb out one by one on to the near bank.
By that time, the monks were all waiting in ceremonial procession on the road leading up to the monastery. A messenger came from the river bank to say “Most of the Chinese soldiers have got across the river. Boatman Lochö has been arrested. Five or six of them drowned, and their bodies were carried away by the current.”
We were a little scared, and not wanting to go up close, stood watching from where we were. The ordinary monks and the Lamas and disciplinarians stood waiting with greeting scarves in their hands. Then someone called from afar “They are coming”, and the commotion of the crowd died down. A line of about 100 soldiers appeared from the forested edge of the Ma-chu, singing as they marched. Approaching us, with rifles on their shoulders and marching in step, they were quite a sight. Most of their clothes were still wet.
“You see, Abu,” I said, “They are Liberation Army soldiers.”
“Yes,” he affirmed, “They are the soldiers of King Chairman Mao. There is no need to be scared.”
Previously, we had been aware of the Liberation Army coming and going inside the monastery many times, and they had given us beans and candy. Today, the whole troop had come, looking at us with beaming smiles on their faces, and we felt not the slightest fear. As they approached the monastery, the Lamas offered them greeting scarves which they accepted, and with folded hands, offered scarves of their own to the Lamas. Those in the rear were still coming up from the river bank, and people said “There must be 300 of them.”
Then, all smiles, the Lamas led the soldiers up to the monastery. We stayed watching the later ones arrive. Once they reached the monastery, the soldiers took over the protector chapel, the residential apartments of Alak Drakgompa, and even some of the monk dormitories, settled in there, and set up lots of iron poles on the roofs. That evening, they held a meeting in the yard where winter teaching sessions were held, attended by the monks and laypeople from the nearby households. Soldiers bearing guns surrounded the yard. Abu Japé and I went to the meeting. A Chinese officer made a speech, relayed by an interpreter: “The welcome given by your monastery today was most kind. There is no need for anyone to fear. We Chinese and Tibetans are one family. We shall be off again in five or six days”, he said, among many other things.
When the meeting was about to end, he said again through the interpreter “From tonight onwards, the monks of the monastery and people of the village may not move around after dark. Our soldiers will be patrolling by night. If you move around too much by night and get killed, it will be your own responsibility. Tomorrow morning there will be a meeting in the summer teaching yard. No-one from the monastery or the village can stay away. Anyone found not attending will be punished or imprisoned”, and many other unwelcome announcements. Hearing them, a fear which I had not felt before grew in my mind. Fear of what, I myself could not tell, but I felt that their earlier fine words had been to deceive us.
From the next daybreak, the monastery was surrounded on all sides by armed Chinese soldiers, and they stared at anyone coming or going with hostility, not with the smiles they wore yesterday when presented with greeting scarves. The monk Khyagé announced in a loud voice “Hey! The soldiers say that all the monks must come to the assembly hall now! To the assembly hall now!”
“Aro!”, asked Aku Ngöntsé, “Are they saying anything we can understand?”
“Not much”, he replied, and then in a low voice “It’s not looking good. Last night, disciplinarian Jangjuk and the seniors were arrested. They say more will be arrested today. Now go to the assembly hall and find out.”
“Maybe better not to go?”, Aku wondered.
“Now, by heaven, it has come to this!”, he replied as he walked away.
I wondered if a time of crisis had come. Yesterday’s talk of kindness and of being one family seemed to have been false. Today the Lamas were under arrest. Perhaps this was not the Liberation Army. Perhaps they really were the Red Chinese demon army? Many thoughts went through my mind, but nothing I could do would provide the answer. I too followed after the monks, and came to the doorway of the assembly hall. I was stopped by a soldier on duty. A moment later the interpreter came, and said children were not permitted inside the hall. I stood watching from the doorway. Inside, the monks sat grouped by dormitory, all silent. After a short while, a Chinese officer started speaking through the interpreter: “Now you all cannot remain silent. You must say whether you want this monastery or not. To remain silent is to disapprove. To disapprove is to consider going against us. If you are not against us, you must speak.”
At that moment, two officers led disciplinarian Jangjuk in handcuffs into the chapel. He was wearing nothing but an underskirt.
“That’s it”, said Aku Tséchö, “This is how they repay yesterday’s welcome. Now even if we speak, the monastery will be destroyed, and even if we don’t, with the monastery destroyed, we will have no integrity.”
Aku Tengyam said “Now they will do whatever they please. If they want to destroy, they will destroy. There will be no option not to destroy.”
Then the interpreter came and told them “Don’t talk like that. Today you are being asked whether you want the monastery or not.”
“Of course we want it”, Tséchö replied, “As a Tibetan, you must know that. Can’t you see that today there is no way for us to say so?”
“This Chinese is talking such lunacy”, said Aku Sherab. “How can you ask monks if they want their monastery? They want to destroy the monastery and are looking for an excuse.” This left the interpreter speechless. I heard everything from the doorway. I thought to myself “Pity! Call it a time of crisis, but calamity has befallen the monastery like the sky falling to earth! Now whatever anyone says, it’s a disaster.”
Chapter 52: Made to destroy our own monastery
Like before, they assembled the monks in the main hall and had them discuss whether or not they wanted a monastery. After a short while, the Chinese officer came and said through the interpreter “The other dormitory groups are saying they don’t need the monastery. What do you think? Decide, yes or no.”
At that, Aku Ngöntsé angrily retorted “That’s enough of your talk! Who says they don’t need the monastery? Who agrees with you?” The interpreter did not know what to tell the officer. Then the officer gave a signal with his hand, saying angrily “If you don’t want to stay, you can get out”, and two soldiers came and led Aku Ngöntsé away. Aku turned back, saying “Enemies of religion! Now do your worst! You enemies of religion, who cannot let others live!”, as the soldiers dragged him out through the door.
The officer spoke again through the interpreter “Anyone else want to leave? Otherwise speak up!”
A few monks said “Now you do as you wish. There is no way for us to disagree.”
“Now both the people and the monastery cannot go together”, said Aku Khargé, “So if we say the monastery is not needed, and the people do not die, there is hope that the monastery may flourish again one day.”
The officer demanded through the interpreter “Now have you all realised that the monastery is not needed?
A few monks replied “Yes, yes”. The majority replied “Do as you wish.”
After a short while, all the monks were assembled. The officer spoke with a beaming smile through the interpreter “Today’s meeting was excellent. Now most of the monks say, following the wishes of the masses, that the monastery is not wanted. We too have understood your wishes.” He said many other things, and then “All monks present here today should help to pile up the statues, religious books and other objects on one side. In two or three days time they must be taken to Ma-chu county town.”
Before he had finished speaking, a wave of unrest rose among the majority of the monks. Some shouted “If you want to destroy, you can do it yourselves. We will not do it!”, and “They are tricking us into destroying the monastery!”, “You can destroy, we are leaving!”, in uproar. At that point, Chinese soldiers came as if from nowhere and surrounded the hall inside and out, loading their guns. From the roof skylight, two or three soldiers set up Ci kon guns, pointing down at the monks. Two shots rang out. I looked up, and saw that the officer had fired his pistol in the air.
Through the interpreter, he said “Everyone sit down on the ground. You are the ones who said the monastery is not needed. Now it must be destroyed whether you like it or not. Whoever does not want to obey, stand up.”
Intimidated by the gunfire and the show of force, the monks bowed their heads and remained sitting down. Then soldiers came and led some of the monks (who had spoken) earlier up to the shrine tables in the hall, and made them throw the statues and scriptures on to the floor. Many among the monks in the hall and the laypeople looking on from the doorway wept and gasped. Some elders prostrated from the doorway. Then a group of soldiers came and drove most of the onlookers away from the door. Some of the old people did not move, and they forced them to sit down on the ground. I also stayed by the door, watching.
With the older monks confined on one side of the hall, the others carried on throwing statues, sacred objects and offering receptacles on to a pile. When the larger statues were thrown down from the top of the shrine, they hit the floor with a resounding crash, and the entire hall was filled with swirling dust. One monk called Khachak brought a long rope, tied it around the neck of the Chögyal (Yama, lord of death) statue in the protector chapel and pulled. The frame holding the statue and its retinue snapped, and they fell to the ground. There was a great feeling of terror, and many people prayed “Lama Konchok Khyen!” (Oh Lord!). I thought “What a brave monk! Daring to tie a rope around the neck of Shinjé Chögyal and drag him down, with no fear of getting hurt. He must be a demon in human form.”
Then Khachak and some other monks dragged the clay statue of Chögyal into the assembly hall full of swirling dust and threw it on the pile of statues.
I thought how strange it was that today Shinjé Chögyal, whose name was normally spoken only in hushed voices, had been dragged through the dust, and nothing had happened. Today, all the gods and spirits had departed. Yes, this really was a time of sudden change. If the gods cannot prevent this, neither do the spirits have the power to harm. On the other hand, I must be doomed. When these statues of the deities were established, I was not here to see it. I had never paid close attention to religion and the statues of the gods. But on the day of their destruction, here I was. I had witnessed them being torn from the shrine one by one and thrown on the floor, the scriptures pulled off the shelves and cast away, monks in terror and confusion, destroying without thinking of the consequences.
Khyogé put a section of the Kangyur (canon of scripture) down on the ground, wailing “Ahawo! How could such a calamity fall on my head? Cursed Chinese, immune to the laws of Karma!”, and was dragged out of the door like a dead dog by two Chinese soldiers.
At that moment, the monks standing by the shrine started rushing here and there in terror, as a lot of soldiers charged into the hall shouting. Looking up, I saw a soldier with blood flowing from his head being escorted out by two others. The soldiers by the shrine grabbed four monks, chained them and led them out. Later we found out why. Apparently, a monk had pulled a statue down from the top of the shrine, and it had fallen on the soldier’s head, knocking him over. Not knowing who had done it, the soldiers grabbed those four monks.
In the centre of the assembly hall was a big pile of destroyed statues and scriptures. The monks were destroying while the soldiers looked on from a distance. The violence that occurs at a time of sudden change is unlike any other. We had come to the point of destroying our own religion ourselves, involuntarily, in the face of extreme force.
Like the saying “When (even) the meek get angry, what can be done?”, now that it was hit or be hit, there was no choice but to destroy. Earlier, in order to protect the monasteries, the head Lamas had ordered that no monk was to oppose the Chinese. Yesterday, after arranging a ceremonial welcome, offering greeting scarves and surrendering, they had been rewarded with nothing more than an empty “Thank you” and the demand to tear down their own monastery.
With these thoughts churning around my head, I went over to the pile of statues, and felt a lump underfoot. Looking down, I saw it was a Buddha image the size of a thumb. I looked around. There were just a few Chinese soldiers guarding the stuff, and they did not seem to notice me. I picked up the image, put it in my pocket, and wandered towards the door as if nothing had happened. As I reached the doorway, the soldier on guard showed me a big smile and said something. I didn’t understand, but I wondered if he knew what I had done. But then I thought it could not be, because if he knew, he would not be smiling at me. Then another soldier appeared, said nothing, gave me a stinging slap, took the image out of the fold of my robe, and hit me on the head with it. Then the other soldier stopped him. I was upset and started to cry. An older soldier came over and rubbed my head as he led me out the door. As I crossed the courtyard, I was thinking that these were definitely not the noble and disciplined Liberation Army soldiers we had seen earlier, they must be the demon army that Abu Japé spoke of. Looking back, I realised that pictures of Chairman Mao and Prime minister Zhou had been pasted on the entrance portico of the monastery. I thought “They ARE the Liberation Army. But they are not like the earlier ones. Why are they so bad, so full of hate? Someone like me would not be able to understand…”
Excerpt from Compilation on the history of the Nangchen kingdom
The battle for Ranyak monastery
Nang chen nyer lnga’i rgyal rabs ngo sprod dang lo rgyus rgyu cha ’dems bsgrigs
(Bari Dawa Tsering – ed.) Nangchen Community Association Dharmshala 2005 p.318-25
Faced with the Communists’ merciless killing and aggression, Tibetan desperation and readiness to fight greatly increased, militias were assembled in all areas and many surprise attacks mounted. Kyegudo (Yushu) was surrounded, but the Chinese were proceeding according to plan, and having established positions, they were waiting for reinforcements. Once these arrived, and lower Pönru was defeated, and before they reached Kyegudo, the Drawu Dépa, the strongest and best-armed militia, had retreated, and the remaining units looked at one another and also fled, one after the other.
Once the Tibetan fighters defending Kyegudo had melted away, the Chinese sent a messenger to warn Ranyak monastery that “The reactionaries have fled. Now what is the monastery going to do?” They replied that they would not surrender, but fight on to the death. They called on the [lesser] monasteries and the common people to come defend the monastery, while summoning all of the 600 and more monks and ordering them to defend the monastery. However, the Chinese attack came before they had time to get the word out and prepare to fight.
Those who came to defend the monastery were 100 horsemen led by Asha Kartal, the chief of lower Rongpo, Doshul Trawa, the military commander of upper Rongpo, Kunsang Trinlé Lhundrup, Gowu Tamtsé, Drakpa and so on, and a group of 100 from the agricultural area monasteries led by Rikdzin Tséwang, junior chief of O Dzong, making a combined force of less than 1000 monks and laypeople. In the spirit of giving their lives for the defence of the Buddhist religion, they occupied the monastery and the hilltops in front and waited for the Chinese attack.
First a force of 100+ Chinese soldiers moved towards Ranyak and confronted the Tibetan fighters defending the hilltops. They fought fiercely, several Chinese were killed and the rest withdrew. After that, a force of several hundreds advanced on the monastery. The O Dzong and Rongpo militias fought them off from the Dzokchen and Nyersham passes, many Chinese were killed and wounded, and they retreated towards Kyegudo dragging their dead behind them. There were 11 or 12 killed on the Tibetan side, including Risar Ngawang Chögyel, Losang Jinpa and Tra-gen. Soon after, as Chinese reinforcements arrived from Xining, and one group reached Lab via Trindu, 130 horsemen, the Abo Yudruk led by Orgyen Lhakyap of Déta and Wangchen Chögyel, crossed the Dri-chu river, with the help of O Dzongtsang Ani, and reached the monastery, where they were sent to defend the hilltops behind.
That day, a huge number of Chinese troops advanced from all sides, and the 100 or more fighters on the hills fought them bravely, killing and wounding many, but were outnumbered, and nearly 40 of the best, including Risar Ngawang Chögyel, Losang Jinpa and Tra-yak were killed in battle…
The rest had no option but to withdraw into the monastery. The junior chief of O Dzong then said “Now we have to decide. Either we leave the monastery and go somewhere else, or resolve to die defending it.”
Everyone resolved to give their lives for the monastery.
That night, Orgyen Lhakyap and the forces from the east bank of the river defending the rear mountain saw that the Chinese had occupied a higher point on the mountaintop behind them. When the Chinese spotted them they exchanged fire, but by then the Chinese had occupied the high ground. They had superior weapons, and the Tibetan troops had no battle experience, and were obliged to retreat. At that point, the Chinese were unable to get around the main force, and they succeeded in retreating to Gönsar monastery. They launched several counterattacks, but were unable to inflict significant damage.
By the 7th day of the 7th Tibetan month 1958, all the hilltops around the monastery had been taken by the Chinese and it was completely surrounded. Inside, the O Dzong junior chief had everyone, monks and laymen, divide into four groups, one on each side of the compound. When the sun rose, the first fighting was at the residence of Ri-gyal Rinpoché, outside the walls. The treasurer Sopa Gyatso was killed there, while some others fled back inside the monastery. From then on, for the next 7 days, the sound of cannon and gunfire went on incessantly, and a hail of bullets fell inside the monastery, but with unwavering determination to die in defence of the Buddhist teachings, the battle for Ranyak monastery, worthy of passing down in Tibet’s history, went on.
Occupying the high ground on all sides, the Chinese bombarded the monastery with shells and bullets, captured the residence of the Rongpo chief outside the boundary wall, and then raised the red flag in Geru Drong village. Then, passing through the buildings along the side of the wall, they reached the main entrance, turned their machinegun on the doorway and fired into the monastery, killing some of the monks who had rushed to that side on hearing the enemy approach. One Tibetan fighter without a gun went up to the entrance and thrust his knife through a crack in the door, and a Chinese (on the other side) cried out and fell to the ground. Likewise, the two Kharjé brothers from Déta crept out on to the door lintel and threw rocks down, and more Chinese soldiers cried and fell.
Then, with shouts of “Ki!”, the Tibetan fighters opened the door ready to do battle, but the Chinese retreated into the nearby buildings. With Chinese troops occupying the high ground on all sides, it was hard to move around. The O Dzong chief knocked a hole in the wall of the building to reach the scene, and as he entered, shot dead a Chinese soldier on watch at the door. Disciplinarian Losang Sopa approached with a knife, trying to snatch the dead soldier’s gun, but before he could get there another soldier quickly grabbed it. Losang Sopa chased him into the building, and the soldiers inside shot him full of holes, but still he staggered forward several paces before falling to the ground.
The Chinese planted explosives at the foot of the boundary wall, brought them down, and swept in like water overflowing. With shouts of “Ki!” the Tibetans fought them, and managed to kill and wound some, and chase others away, but before long, under covering fire, they came back in, and the battle rose to fever pitch.
When a Chinese officer with a peaked cap ran in from Geru side leading about 20 men, Tséwang Lhundrup and others took aim and shot down every one of them. The Tibetans had little ammunition, and after a day or two, had to rely only on what they could recover from the Chinese soldiers they killed. Many of the monk fighters made good use of the bows and arrows laid before the protector deities.
Thus the Tibetans, monks and laymen, kept up the fight for a long time, with no regard for their own lives, but they had little ammunition and were outnumbered, and by the 12th day of the month, the Chinese troops entered the monastery. Even then, in the taking of each building and ruin they inflicted serious losses, and many were killed and wounded on our side too, due to their lack of familiarity with modern warfare. For instance, when the group of 30 monks defending the assembly hall saw enemy soldiers entering the compound, they rushed at them shouting “Ki!”, the Chinese fired at them from a distance and they were all killed, by the side of the Stupa next to the ‘Ra Shing’ field. The fighting continued for 6 days and nights after the enemy entered the monastery, and not a single building in the complex was left standing. Out of ammunition, and almost out of capable fighters, by the night of the 15th the Tibetans had no choice but to launch a final assault, and many died charging at the enemy. Gyalsé Rinpoché, Ri-gyal Rinpoché and others now living in India are those who managed to escape from the scene of the attack that night and eventually make their way into exile.
The following day, the Chinese soldiers took over the monastery, and to start with, in retaliation for the hundreds of their number who were killed in the battle, they killed everyone in sight, even the monk elder Dzorong Losang Puntsok, who was over 100 years old. O Dzong Sopa, Shari Gélong and others were beheaded, and their heads stuck on poles and paraded in the marketplace. The commander Pewo Lharak, Pewo Lodrö, Lhakor Markor, Doshul Lonam, Chöden Gyatso, Lhajé Makko and others died in battle that day. As they had fought so bravely in defence of the monastery, the Chinese stabbed their corpses with knives to assuage their hatred…
Destruction of Tibetan Buddhism---Introductioin
Destruction of Tibetan Buddhism---Chinese sources
Destruction of Tibetan Buddhism---Introductioin
Destruction of Tibetan Buddhism---Chinese sources