To implement orders from the central government, Liuhe town officials in Hubei Province are cracking down on Buddhist and folk religion places of worship.
by Cai Congxin
Numerous temples used to be an important part of the rural life in China’s central province of Hubei. But as the CCP continues to stifle all religions, many of them have been shut down or demolished. Pious Buddhists who have lived in the temples for years have been driven out and left homeless.
In Qichun county’s Liuhe town, administered by Huanggang city, 40 of its 79 temples have been sealed off, and people guarding them evicted in a few days after the town government launched the drive to crack down on temples in its jurisdiction on August 14. The orders came from the central government, they claimed.
Among the closed down places of worship was Ciyundong Temple, located in one of Liuhe’s villages. The person in charge of it, in his 70s, and who has lived in the temple for over 20 years, was notified by village officials to vacate the temple and shut it down because “this was a state policy, and no one is allowed to reside in temples.”
Two weeks later, some officials stormed into the temple, intending to remove the elderly man and take him to a nursing home.
The man, who has no relatives to turn to, tried to explain that he could not live in the nursing home because he was a vegetarian, and in the home for the elderly, mostly meat-based foods were given to the residents. But officials lost no time locking the temple gate, and they took the elderly man to the nursing home against his will.
“If you don’t send me back, I’ll commit suicide,” the man tried to protest.
Fearing that the man might take his life, the officials allowed him to stay in the temple temporarily, but he would later have to go to the hospital to treat his illnesses.
With no other choice, the elderly believer went to the hospital. “I am deprived of freedom even there,” the man complained. “The village head comes to monitor me every day. If they pressure me to move into a nursing home once again, I’ll kill myself.”
Another elderly believer, who has lived in one of the temples in Liuhe town for 17 years, was sent to a nursing home two days before Ciyundong Temple was shut down. The man in his 60s was staying at the Buddhist Kaishan Temple, and village officials tricked him into moving to the nursing home by lying to him that if he wants to continue enjoying social benefits, he should relocate to the facility for the elderly. The man moved out, and the village authorities sealed off the temple.
The man only later learned that he had been fooled – other elderly were allowed to stay in the village and continued receiving all government-issued benefits. He demanded to be released from the nursing home, but its director told him that he could only go if his relatives come to pick him up. He added that personnel were keeping guard at the entrance, and without his permission, no one will open the door for him.
“I don’t feel free living in this nursing home. I am not accustomed to the food, I wish to leave this place every day,” the elderly believer, now imprisoned in the nursing home, told Bitter Winter.
Fulin Temple in Liuhe town’s Zhonglu village was shut down around the same time. Initially built during the reign of Emperor Qianlong (1735-1799), the temple was destroyed later destroyed during wars but was reconstructed.
Fulin Temple in the town, too, had a resident. The believer who has lived in the temple didn’t dare resist while being kicked out, she lowered her head and silently shed tears.
“Now, the state prohibits people from burning incense and worshiping Buddha, and requires to seal all temples,” a resident in the area commented. “All Buddhist statues are ordered to be removed; otherwise, the government will bring in excavators to demolish temples.”
A village official who unwillingly implemented the order from the superiors to shut down the temple explained to Bitter Winter that he had no choice – a provincial inspection team was stationed in the town at the time. “They require to seal or demolish all temples, and we can do nothing about it,” the official said.