Followers of Buddhism and Taoism, two traditional Chinese religions, face ruthless suppression at the hands of authorities for defending their religious liberties.
by Wang Yong
The Bailong Temple (literally, White Dragon Temple) in Jiujiang, a prefecture-level city in the southeastern province of Jiangxi, spans a history of over 700 years. On June 28 last year, the Buddhist temple was demolished on orders by the local government that agreed to build a new venue for local Buddhists.
The statues of deities from the old temple were temporarily stored in a shed assembled nearby. To ensure that a new temple is built as planned, the temple director ordered a stone statue of Mao Zedong to be displayed next to the shed. He also posted a slogan “Be Loyal to the Communist Party, Follow the Party Forever, Obey the Party’s Command, and Study the Major Spirit of the Party” on both sides of the shed entrance.
The director’s attempts to please the government proved to be fruitless—the construction of the new temple was stalled. After a year and a half, the walls of the new temple only reached two meters. On October 17 this year, ten law enforcement officers came to the site together with over ten unidentified men, who started demolishing the newly built walls. Some Buddhists rushed to prevent the demolition but were stopped and beaten.
“When they’re dressed in uniforms, they can beat people as they please, and common people can do nothing about it,” a Buddhist in his 50s commented with anger.
On the afternoon of September 15, the government of Jiujiang’s Xiushui county dispatched over 100 police officers and workers to demolish the folk religion Sanye Temple. After learning the news, residents rushed to the site to stop them.
“We were beaten ruthlessly,” recalled one of the people who defended the temple. “I saw two people being knocked to the ground; one of them suffered a concussion.” He added that the police confiscated and broke the phones from the people who tried to record the events. The chaos lasted for about two hours until the local authorities declared that they suspended their plans to demolish the temple. Only statues of deities were removed from it.
To prevent the temple from demolition, over 30 local women took turns guarding it until 10 p.m. the next day. A few hours after they left that night, at about 2 a.m., government-hired workers demolished the temple with an excavator.
According to a local source, the original Sanye Temple was 2,000 square meters in size. The government demolished it some time ago, but local people built a 20-square-meter venue in its place. Still, even this small place of worship angered the authorities
On September 27, the Fan town government in Jiangxi’s Ruichang city ordered to demolish the newly built Lingyin Taoist Temple.
“They did it at night, afraid that people would protest if the demolition happened in the daytime,” an eyewitness commented.