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<-Back to WTN Archives Buddhist Teacher Phuntsok Dead at 70 (AP)
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World Tibet Network News

Published by the Canada Tibet Committee

Thursday, January 8, 2004



5. Buddhist Teacher Phuntsok Dead at 70 (AP)


SHANGHAI, China, 8 Jan (AP)--Tibetan Buddhist teacher Jigme Phuntsok, the
founder of an influential religious academy whose success prompted a
crackdown by communist Chinese authorities, has died, overseas supporters
said. He was 70.

Jigme Phuntsok died Wednesday in a hospital in the western city of Chengdu
after undergoing heart surgery there earlier this month, the Washington,
D.C., based International Campaign for Tibet said in a news release. He had
been in poor health for years, suffering from diabetes and high blood
pressure, it said.

Officials at the state-controlled Tibetan Buddhist Association in Tibet's
capital Lhasa and the Chinese Buddhist Association in Beijing said they had
no knowledge of Jigme Phuntsok or information about his possible death.

A man who answered the phone at the institute refused to say whether Jigme
Phuntsok had died. ``I can't say, but you'll know later,'' said the man, who
refused to identify himself.

Since 2001, Chinese authorities had restricted Jigme Phuntsok's movements to
the Larung Gar Buddhist Institute in a Tibet area of western China, allowing
him to travel only for medical checks, the Campaign for Tibet said.

It wasn't clear what funeral arrangements were being made, although the
Campaign for Tibet urged China to allow Jigme Phuntsok's followers to
conduct traditional funeral rites for him and release details of his death.

Officials of the state-controlled Tibetan Buddhist Association in Tibet's
capital Lhasa and the Chinese Buddhist Association in Beijing said they had
no knowledge of Jigme Phuntsok or information about his possible death.

A doctor at the People's Liberation Army No. 363 hospital in Chengdu said
Jigme Phuntsok was treated in the hospital in 2002 but said she had no
information about his whereabouts. She declined to give her name. Jigme
Phuntsok, who held the title of khenpo, or great scholar, was born into a
family of nomadic herders in 1933, nearly two decades before Chinese
communist troops occupied the Tibetan region.

China claimed it was reasserting authority over its own territory, but many
Tibetans say their homeland was an independent country.

Ordained a monk in 1955, he traveled widely and established a number of
meditation retreats for Buddhist monks and laymen.

In 1980, he established Larung Gar near the Tibetan town of Serthar with 100
followers, watching it grow over the next two decades to include more than
8,000 Chinese and Tibetan scholars. Hundreds of scholars who graduated with
degrees took up teaching positions in monasteries in China, Tibet and
overseas.

Chinese religious authorities began cracking down on the institute in the
late 1990s, apparently concerned that its size and influence could challenge
their control over religious activity. In 2001, authorities demanded that
the institute's population could not exceed 1,400 and sent in crews to
demolish dormitories and drive off monks and nuns.


Articles in this Issue:
  1. Tibetans becoming a minority in Tibet: Dalai Lama (IANS)
  2. Dalai Lama favours a meaningful dialogue to solve Tibet problem (UNI)
  3. Security Stepped Up Following Abbot's Death (TN)
  4. Charismatic Tibetan Buddhist Leader Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok Passes Away (ICT)
  5. Buddhist Teacher Phuntsok Dead at 70 (AP)
  6. Candle Light Vigil in front of the Norwegian Parliament by SFT Norway



Other articles this month - WTN Index - Mail the WTN-Editors

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