|August 25, 2011|
In the great prayer hall, from noon to evening, one hundred and eight monks chant one hundred and eight sutras, led by the high lama Arja Ripoche. It took a long journey for him to be here today. Once being an upstanding citizen of China, he fled the country thirteen years ago.
Arja Rinpoche: I am the abbot of Kumbum Monastery. So, everything was fine. Normal people of China said, they said, what you want or I already have everything. But I left.
Having done everything he could to be Chinese, Arja Rinpoche found he could do so no longer. He was Mongolian. He is also a Buddhist who wish to free worship of the Dalai Lama. He is not the only one disillusioned. This is an amateur footage of recent unrest in ethnic Mongolian territory of China, triggered by the death of a herder. It broadened into greater protests against Chinese policies and practices. One major complaint has been over the ecological damage from the Chinese mining in the area. Mongolians place great value on the environment. Many even believe that mountains hold spirits, and by standing on the peak you are close heaven.
China's Mongolian territory named "Inner Mongolia" is pockmarked with open-pit mines like this one. And the government has forced its nomads to stop herding. They said to prevent desertification though environmentalists questioned the strategy's effectiveness. Mongolians share religion and many other cultural traditions with Tibetans. Now the two groups also peer to share China's anger. Arja Rinpoche believe the country closely manages its ethnic minorities because of possible effect on the greater population.
Arja Rinpoche: I think the government's worry is not really the ethnic groups. Just like ethnic group doing something become examples for mainland China. So eventually Chinese people may stand up against the government.
Buddhists believe compassion is prerequisite of the path to enlightenment. So many here hope Chinese officials exercise restraint against their fellow Mongolians. So they pray. Melissa Chan, Al Jazeera, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.