Authorities destroyed a well-known Buddhist temple in the province’s Xutang village in 2013.
The Tibetan-style Guanghua Temple was located in Xutang village, Zhengyang town, Weicheng district, Xianyang city, and it was attracting many worshipers who came there to light incense and pray. In 2011, a lot of money was invested for its expansion, after which the temple covered an area of 600 square meters, with a 70-meter-tall Buddhist pagoda.
In the summer of 2013, two of the temple’s directors surnamed Yan and Dong, received a government notice stating that the temple would be demolished. In the morning of December 21, over 200 armed police officers were dispatched to the temple in five police cars and 12 military trucks; several excavators and loaders were taken to the site as well. The police dispersed the worshipers inside the temple, cut off the water supply and electricity lines, blocked off the surrounding traffic, and prohibited anyone from approaching the area.
The director of the town’s Armed Forces Department said that they were executing the orders by the central government to forcibly demolish the temple because its construction was illegal and unauthorized. After two days of demolition, the once majestic temple had become a heap of rubble. More than 100 Buddha statues in the temple were also smashed to pieces. After the destruction, the police built a barbed-wire fence and two-meter-high wall around the temple to cover the ruins, and people were prohibited from entering.
On the day of the demolition, director Yan stepped forward attempting to protect the temple, but two police officers restrained him by forcing his arms behind his back. Director Dong sat atop the pagoda and recited Buddhist scripture in a show of resistance, but the head of the Armed Forces Department and other officials subdued him by force, took him to the town’s government offices, while the demolition continued.
According to witnesses, during the process of demolishing one of the Buddha statues, it fell, killing two people. One of them, 26-year-old excavator driver was killed on the spot by the falling debris. Despite this tragedy, the officials didn’t stop the demolition and immediately dispatched another driver to continue the work. Some witnesses called reporters after seeing that people had been killed. However, after arriving at the scene, the reporters were threatened by the government officials and were taken to the town’s government office. The temple’s directors, Yan and Dong, watching helplessly as the temple, built over the course of many years, was being demolished into a pile of debris, knelt down and struck their heads on the ground.
After the temple was demolished, director Dong was forced to leave the village, and local believers were left with no place of worship.
Eight months after the temple was demolished, the Zhengyang subdistrict officials forced director Yan to sign an agreement that prohibited him from petitioning state institutions or publicizing the demolition of the temple. He was given 8,000 yuan; if he violated the deal, he would have to return all the money and encounter other consequences.
Today, the site of the temple is overgrown with trees and weeds.
Reported by Zhou Xiaolu