MAC: Mines and Communities

Tibetan Mine Protesters Detained in Palyul

Published by MAC on 2014-05-05
Source: Radio Free Asia (2014-04-29)

Previous article on Tibetan mine protests: Tibetans protest land seizure linked to gold mining

Tibetan Mine Protesters Detained in Palyul

Radio Free Asia

24 April 2014

Authorities in a Tibetan-populated county in southwestern China's Sichuan province have detained four village leaders following protests against a Chinese mining company's attempt to seize land for operations in the area, according to sources in the region and in exile.

Identified as Thupga, Gade, Kyamo, and Jamyang, the men were taken into custody on April 21 by Palyul (in Chinese, Baiyu) county police in Barchung village in the Tromthar township of Kardze (Ganzi) prefecture, a local resident told RFA's Tibetan Service on Wednesday.

"Police said the four were detained because they had committed actions against [China's] constitution," the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"But the real reason was the refusal by local Tibetans to sell land to Chinese miners for the excavation of gold in the area," he said.

Tibet-called Xizang, or Western Treasure, by China-has become an important source of minerals needed for China's economic growth, and mining operations in Tibetan regions have led to frequent standoffs with Tibetans who accuse Chinese firms of disrupting sites of spiritual significance and polluting the environment as they extract local wealth.

For many years, a Chinese company had tried to force the sale by Tibetans of land in a part of Palyul called Shawathang, the source said.

"Toward the end of February, the Chinese became more aggressive in their efforts to take over the land, but the Tibetans, led by those four men, organized a protest rally against the Chinese plan," he said.

"They insisted that the Chinese would not be allowed to dig mines in their area."

'Serious consequences'

After county authorities threatened protest participants with "serious consequences" for their action, some protesters fled into the hills for safety, a Tibetan living in India said, citing contacts in the area and also speaking on condition of anonymity.

"But after the situation calmed down a little, they came down from the hills and returned to town," he said.

Police then detained the protest leaders, taking Thupga and Kyamo into custody at a place called Dokho, and seizing Gade at his home and Jamyang at a mining site called Gartsang, he said.

Nearly four years before, Palyul county police had responded with lethal force when another group of Tibetans protested the expansion of a gold mining operation they said was harming the environment.

At least four people were killed and 30 wounded in the Aug. 17, 2010 shooting when police opened fire on a crowd outside county government offices, sources said.

Sporadic demonstrations challenging Beijing's rule have continued in Tibetan-populated areas of China since widespread protests swept the area in 2008.

A total of 131 Tibetans have also set themselves ablaze in self-immolation protests calling for Tibetan freedom since the wave of fiery protests began in February 2009, with another six setting fire to themselves in India and Nepal.

Reported by Lobsang Choephel for RFA's Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.


Tibetan Jumps to His Death to Protest Chinese Mine

Radio Free Asia

7 May 2014

A young Tibetan stabbed himself and jumped to his death from the roof of a building in Tibet's Chamdo prefecture on Wednesday after authorities tried to halt his protest against a Chinese mine being built in the area, Tibetan sources in exile said.

Phakpa Gyaltsen, 32, died instantly after throwing himself from a building in Dzogang (in Chinese, Zuogang) prefecture's Tongbar town, a Tibetan living in India told RFA's Tibetan Service on Wednesday, citing local sources.

After telling local Tibetans that he would "do something" to oppose Chinese mining in Dzogang, Gyaltsen "went to the town center, climbed onto a high building, and called out for Tibetan freedom," the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"When attempts were made to stop him, he stabbed himself twice and jumped off the building, dying instantly," he said.

Tibet-called Xizang, or Western Treasure, by China-has become an important source of minerals needed for China's economic growth, and mining operations in Tibetan regions have led to frequent standoffs with Tibetans who accuse Chinese firms of disrupting sites of spiritual significance and polluting the environment as they extract local wealth.

Chinese mining operations at a site near Madok Tso called Ache Jema began almost two months ago, an exile source in Europe said, also citing contacts in Dzogang.

"They claimed that they are working to build a dam, but in reality they are planning to mine in the area, the source said.

"So the local Tibetans decided to stop the plan, and every day three Tibetans were sent to guard the area, working in rotation."

Detained

Some of those watching the site were later detained by police in Tongbar but were released after a few days, he said.

"Local authorities also tried to convince area residents not to oppose the mining by offering each family 10,000 yuan [U.S. $1,603] in compensation," RFA's India-based source said, adding, "But the Tibetans argued that mining would have negative impacts [on the area]."

"Phakpa Gyaltsen then told the local Tibetans that he would do something himself so that they would not have to protest and cause problems."

Gyaltsen, the elder son of the area's Choeshoe family, is survived by a wife and three small children, with another child on the way, he said.

"Phone connections to the area are now blocked, and it is difficult to learn anything more about what is happening," he said.

Sporadic demonstrations challenging Beijing's rule have continued in Tibetan-populated areas of China since widespread protests swept the region in 2008, with 131 Tibetans to date self-immolating to protest Chinese rule and call for the return of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.

Reported by RFA's Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.

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