forced demolition

Faye Wong urges 'end to forced demolition' after Fuzhou temple torn down

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 11 December, 2013, 1:41pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 December, 2013, 2:34pm

Diva, pious Buddhist, and influential blogger Faye Wong called for “an end to forced demolition” on Weibo on Wednesday morning after a historic buddhist temple in Fujian province was torn down against the will of its resident abbots.

The two abbots at the Ruiyun temple, in their 70s and 80s, had refused to leave the Fuzhou temple even after it was reduced to ruins by demolition workers on Sunday. They were taken away on Wednesday morning by security guards, Chinese online news portal reported, quoting witnesses at the temple. Abbots had phoned once for help after they were brought away, but weren't able to be reached since, said sources.

The whereabout of the missing abbots and the forced demolition of the 117-year-old house of worship has angered China’s religious community. Thousands protested on Weibo, demanding respect and protection of religious sites.

Bloggers say they were especially touched by a video clip reposted by Wong that was allegedly recorded 20 minutes before the demolition took place on Sunday. In the clip, a calm and resolute 84-year-old abbot performed her last round of worship in the temple, before walking away from the place she had served and lived in or years.

Abbot worships 20 minutes before the forced demolition

“Empathy has no fear, and let’s hope for an end to forced demolition in the world,” Wong, who has more than 20 million followers, wrote.

Abbots at the Ruiyun temple have been protesting the demolition scheme ever since it was proposed three years ago, according to a report by China News Service.

Despite vehement opposition from the temple and the absence of a written approval from the abbots, the city’s department of ethnic and religious affairs, which oversees religious venues in the city, approved the demolition in compliance with a major urbanisation scheme of Fuzhou city, said the CNS report.

To compensate for the loss of the historic venue, the city has spent 6 million yuan (HK$7.61 million) building a brand new temple next to the old one with a bigger gross floor area. The construction was finished by July and is ready for abbots to move in, said the report. The city plans to build a primary school, whose old campus was also demolished, at the current location of the temple.

Fuzhou’s department of ethnic and religious affairs couldn’t be reached for a comment on Wednesday morning.