MAC: Mines and Communities

Tibetan Women Beaten and Detained at Anti-Mine Rally

Published by MAC on 2014-07-05
Source: Radio Free Asia (2014-07-02)

Tibetan Women Attacked, Beaten at Anti-Mine Rally

Radio Free Asia

2 July 2014

Police in China's southwestern Yunnan province on Monday attacked and beat a group of Tibetan women who had gathered to protest copper mining on land considered sacred by residents living near the site, sources said.

The protest came after Chinese authorities dismissed repeated appeals by Tibetans living in Dechen (in Chinese, Diqing) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture's Dechen (Deqin) county to halt the excavations, a local source told RFA's Tibetan Service on Tuesday.

Mining by the Chinese Huicheng minerals company on Ganglha mountain near Mata village in Dechen county's Yamen township has left the mountain already scarred by digging, with "extracted ore and waste piled up by the village," the source said.

Mata residents are worried over police warnings of more severe punishment if they continue with their protests.

"On June 30, the women of the local Tibetan community marched to the site and shouted for the mining work to stop," the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"The armed police and paramilitary forces who were present did not fire on the women, but instead attacked and beat them," he said, adding, "Two were beaten especially severely."

"Later, some men from the Tibetan community joined the protest, and they were taken away and detained."

"The local Tibetans have called on the authorities to release those who were detained, warning that otherwise they will resort to other means of protest," he said.

Safety, religious concerns

Tibetan areas of China have become an important source of minerals needed for China's economic growth, and mining operations 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.

"Tibetans in Mata have urged the authorities several times to stop the mining out of concern for the community's safety and the sacredness of the mountain, but their concerns were never addressed," RFA's source said.

"Instead, the Chinese miners vowed to continue their work even if the local people objected," he said.

Huicheng has been found to be operating in the area with a "fake license," though it has claimed official approval to extract minerals, mainly copper, from the area, according to the source.

Separately, a Tibetan living in exile confirmed the police attack on Tibetan protesters at the mining site, citing contacts in the region.

"Recently, new rich deposits of copper were discovered in the valley of Mata village, and Chinese authorities built a road leading to the mine."

After local Tibetans resisted the expanded mining, "over a hundred armed police and paramilitary forces were deployed to the area, and they beat and detained Tibetan protesters," he said.

"They also told the Tibetans they had orders to kill them if necessary," he said.

"To be beaten is nothing," he said, adding, "Even more severe punishments may be given to the Tibetans if they continue to resist the mining work."

Sporadic demonstrations challenging Chinese rule have continued in Tibetan-populated areas of China since widespread protests swept the region in 2008, with 131 Tibetans to date setting themselves ablaze to oppose Beijing's 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.


Tibetans beaten and detained for protesting against mining at sacred hill

Tibet Express

3 July 2014

DHARAMSALA - Chinese authorities in Dechen County in the traditional Tibetan province of Kham have detained at least nine Tibetans and severely beaten several others, including women on July 1 for protesting against Chinese mining activity at a hill considered sacred by the local Tibetans.

Several Tibetans from Martak village in Yama township in Dechen county were protesting against a Chinese company mining copper at a sacred hill in the locality. An altercation ensued between the Chinese miners and the Tibetan protesters after the miners refused to give into the Tibetans' demand to stop mining activity at the sacred hill.

Hundreds of Chinese police and paramilitary forces arrived at the site and severely beat the Tibetan protester and detained at least nine Tibetans. A Tibetan woman who was severely beaten by the police had to be taken to a hospital.

Details of the detained Tibetans and the woman could not be immediately confirmed.

Although the security forces did not fire at the protesters they told the Tibetans that they had the permission to "kill" if necessary.

Although mining activity at the site had been going on for the past 5-6 years, construction of motorable road from the village to the mining site and expansion of mining activity after the company discovered huge deposits of copper at the site about two years ago had infuriated the local Tibetans who made several requests prior to the incident to stop the mining activity.

Chinese mining activity in the Tibetan hills have led to numerous protests by the Tibetans who consider the hills sacred as they believe the hills are the abode of mountain gods who have protected the community and the land from time immemorial.

Chinese authorities have reacted to these protests by beating, arresting and also firing live ammunition at Tibetan protesters.

On 30 May 2009, local Public Security Bureau officers from Yushu County fired live ammunition and tear gas on local Tibetans in Shidag Village in Surmang (Ch: Xiaosumang) Township for protesting illegal mining activities. More than 12 Tibetans were severely beaten and sentenced on false charges of political activities.

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