Photographs capture horrors of Cultural Revolution in Tibet


New Delhi, Apr 7 (PTI) Retelling the horrors of the decade-long Cultural Revolution in Tibet, an exhibition here has chronicled the destruction in the autonomous Chinese region between 1966 and 1976.

Titled, ‘Re-visiting the Cultural Revolution in Tibet’, the week-long exhibition at India International Centre here showcases how the revolution presided over by Mao Zedong in the spring of 1966, destroyed Tibet’s culture, religion and identity.

“The Cultural Revolution in China was unleashed by Mao to eliminate his enemies and reshape relations within the party.

However, in Tibet, the Cultural Revolution was aimed to destroy its religion, culture and identity.

“By the time it ended with Mao’s death in September 1976, more than 6,000 monasteries in Tibet laid in ruins…millions of ancient and priceless manuscripts were burnt and precious statues were removed from the temples and shipped to China,” says Tashi Phuntsok, Director of Tibet Museum.

With over 50 photographs on display, the exhibition is divided into seven categories — ‘Beginning of Cultural Revolution’, ‘Destruction of the Jokhang Temple’, ‘Struggle Session’, ‘Creation of New God’, ‘Name Change’, ‘Destruction of Monasteries’ and ‘Revival of Cultural Revolution in Tibet’.

Through the show, Phuntsok talks about Tibet in the aftermath of the revolution, highlighting the immeasurable destruction – be it the Red Guard Brigades, or the Chinese campaign of smashing the four olds in Tibet old thoughts, old customs, old habits and old cultures – by shutting down schools and plundering temples.

Phuntsok, who has also curated the exhibition says, “We want to make the young people in India and abroad aware of this, because it is continuing even now in Tibet.” “The awareness is important because even today, decades after the Cultural Revolution, Beijing’s hardline policies have led to executions, destruction of religious institutions, political indoctrination, expulsion of monks and nuns.

“Through campaigns such as ‘Strike Hard’ and ‘Patriotic Re-education’, the government maintains a chokehold on religious institutions,” he says.

The exhibition is set to conclude on April 8.