Washington: The US state department expressed concern over reports of China’s actions against Tibetan Buddhists, including the destruction of Buddha statues as a part of its campaign to obliterate the traditions of the ethnic minority. The state department’s Office of International Religious Freedom, which promotes universal respect for freedom of religion or belief for all as a core objective of US foreign policy, urged the Chinese authorities to respect the right of Tibetans to practice their belief freely.
“We are very troubled by reports of escalating PRC actions against Tibetan Buddhists, including authorities destroying Buddha statues, removing prayer wheels, and burning prayer flags. We urge PRC authorities to respect the right of Tibetans to practice their beliefs freely,” the US Office said.
The statement comes days after reports of China destroying a second Buddhist statue revered by Tibetans in western China's Sichuan province emerged. The destruction of a three-storey statue of Maitreya Buddha at Gaden Namyal Ling monastery in Drago county in the Kardze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture was confirmed through commercial satellite imagery, reported Radio Free Asia.
Chinese officials claimed that the statue was razed due to safety reasons, according to the report. They said that there was no fire escape in the temple housing the three-story high statue of Maitreya Buddha. Beijing has been long accused of cracking down on ethnic minorities in an apparent attempt to strip off their identity. China has been reportedly imposing restrictions on religious and “Arabic” architecture in Hui-dominated areas. Huis are the Chinese speaking community that follows Islam, and are considered to be the largest Muslim minority group there with over 20 million population.