News and Views on Tibet

Activists rally against forced resettlement of Tibetans

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By Tsering Dhundup

DHARAMSHALA, Feb 23: Five Tibetan NGOs organized a peace march in McLeod Ganj, Dharamshala to show solidarity to Tibetans protesting against forced resettlement that will make way for a Chinese dam project on the Drichu River in Kham region of Tibet. 

Hundreds of Tibetans in Derge County, in Tibet on Feb. 14, protested against the Chinese government’s plan to relocate thousands of local Tibetans from their traditional lands to facilitate the construction of a major hydroelectric dam around the Drichu River. Several videos surfaced depicting monks and laypeople from Derge, kneeling before local Chinese officials and begging them to halt the relocation of villages and monasteries on 20th Feb. 

In a joint statement issued at the march by the Tibetan Women’s Association, National Democratic Party of Tibet, Students for Free Tibet, Tibetan Youth Congress, and Regional Tibetan Youth Congress, they expressed their solidarity with the Tibetan community in Dege County, Tibet. “We stand in solidarity with the Tibetan community in Dege County in Tibet as they peacefully protest against the construction of a hydropower dam on the Dichu River. This project threatens the displacement of residents from two villages and six monasteries, jeopardising their homes, livelihoods, and cultural heritage,” 

The statement emphasized that the displacement of Tibetan communities due to large-scale development projects like the dam on the Drichu River is not new. It underscored the continued disregard for the rights and well-being of Tibetans, demanding immediate attention from the international community.

Furthermore, the statement stressed the global significance of Tibet, often referred to as the “Third Pole.” Tibet’s glaciers and rivers serve as the source of major rivers sustaining over 1.5 billion people across Asia. The ecological stability of Tibet is essential for the well-being of not only Tibetans but also countless others who depend on these vital waterways.

Speaking on the environmental impact, the statement warned, “The construction of the dam on the Drichu River not only threatens the local Tibetan community but also poses a risk to the fragile ecosystem of the Tibetan plateau. Any disruption to Tibet’s rivers and a diversion of the rivers could have far-reaching consequences for the environment, biodiversity, and livelihoods of millions of people downstream.”

In the wake of the protests, Chinese authorities have reportedly detained numerous Tibetan monks from Wonto Monastery and Yena Monastery in Dege County, alongside local Tibetans engaged in protests. On February 14, local Tibetans from six monasteries and approximately 25 villages staged a protest, voicing opposition to the government’s plan. According to various accounts, Chinese police employed water cannons, pepper spray, and tasers to quell the protests.

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