Monks who lived at old Buddhist Gaoshan Temple in Jiujiang city were forced to move as Chinese government demolishes the holy place.
For the past roughly 40 years, incense has always burned brightly at the Gaoshan Temple, but no more. Not since the authorities in Jiujiang city, located in northwest Jiangxi Province, got their way, repeatedly threatening and intimidating the temple’s abbot, saying the holy place would be destroyed one way or another in order to pave the way for a new road to be built.
The Gaoshan Temple being demolished:
And so, bit by bit since the middle of September, the Jiujiang municipal government sent personnel in to begin the dismemberment. On the evening of November 6, the Gaoshan Temple’s Hall of Great Strength was uprooted and toppled by a bulldozer. Inside the hall, 18 Buddhist statues worth 10 million RMB (about $1,450,000) were smashed and destroyed. On November 14, the Gaoshan Temple was completely razed to the ground. All that remained was a statue Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy, which was taken away in a vehicle.
The temple is now a pile of ruins.
This was all after, sources say, Jiujiang municipal authorities in April met with the abbot, telling him a road needed to be built near the Gaoshan Temple and that it had to be moved to a nearby mountain. The abbot refused. The government repeatedly sent personnel to discuss the matter, but the abbot wouldn’t budge.
In early September, five personnel from the local government and police station once again arrived at the temple demanding that the abbot sign and agree to have the temple deconstructed and relocated. The abbot insisted he wouldn’t sign without seeing the demolition documents and assessment agreement, at which point the head of police flew into a rage, yelling: “I’m a government official and I can’t even manage you? Come on, come on; take him away.” After that, the police escorted the abbot to the local police station and attempted to make him sign the papers again. The abbot still refused.
That day, more than 50 believers and the abbot’s mother went to the station and begged the police to release him. He finally was released around midnight. But a few days later, the head of the police station once again met with the abbot, and threatened him, saying, “‘I can put any label on you that I want and you won’t get one single cent. There was a householder in some county who was always unwilling to compromise and sign. But then the government sent personnel to put two guns and some white powder in his private car. The police searched his vehicle and directly apprehended two males from the family, fined them and imprisoned them.”
The intimidation forced the helpless abbot to sign the agreement. And even then, the government didn’t follow up on its end: it should’ve paid in compensation for the destroyed temple over 40 million RMB (about $5,808,000), but the local government just so happened to fail to produce a demolition procedure assessment form. After consulting with government officials, the abbot and his fellow believers were promised 15 million RMB (about $2,178,000) for the temple, but so far, they’ve only received about 5 million RMB (about $726,000).
“If we want to build another temple, this money is far from enough,” one Gaoshan Temple monk said. “All of the Buddha statues in the Hall of Great Strength were basically destroyed by the bulldozer. The temple suffered heavy losses. Our temple actually didn’t need to be demolished, because the adjacent highway had already been built.”
Local residents said that the government’s claim about needing to build a highway was false – but the destruction of the temple was very real.
Reported by Lin Yijiang