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26 Expelled After Tibetan Nunnery Refuses to Denounce Dalai Lama

FILE - Buddhist nuns.

FILE - Buddhist nuns.

Chinese officials expelled at least 26 Tibetan nuns from Jhada Nunnery, a well-regarded religious institution in the eastern region of Tibet, since October.

According to a release from the Dra-Sog-Drisum Association Monday, Chinese officials intensified restrictions on admissions after the nunnery refused to denounce the Dalai Lama in September.

The nunnery is officially allowed to host 140 nuns, but many more come from various Tibetan areas to study.

“Normally when the work team visits the nunnery, the nuns who do not have an official residential permit go into the mountains to hide,” said Ngawang Tharpa, the secretary of Choshi Gangdrug in Dharamsala, told VOA's Tibetan Service Monday.

But he said when the nunnery refused to denounce the Dalai Lama in September, officials with the work team stayed in the nunnery for several days, waiting for nuns without a permit to return so they could be removed. He added that some nuns may still be hiding in the mountains.

Jhada Nunnery, originally built in 1477, was destroyed during the Cultural Revolution and rebuilt in 1984 by the local nuns in Driru County in the Tibetan Autonomous Region. Today it has become a rare nunnery that offers Tibetan language and literature instruction, said Tharpa.

Restive Driru County has been the site of several protests in recent years and remains one of the most restricted Tibetan areas since 2012. Exiled observers say the main communication channels, including Wechat, are completely shutdown in the county, making it very difficult to get news from the area.

This report was produced in collaboration with VOA's Tibetan Service.