By Phurbu Thinley
Dharamsala, Sept 1: Chinese police fatally shot dead a Tibetan protester during a demonstration last week, state media reported Monday, saying the man was hit by stray warning rounds.
A recent photo from Tibet shows Tibetan anti-mining protesters in standoff with Chinese security forces in Shigatse, Tibet. Up to 30 Tibetans have been reportedly detained following a large-scale anti-mining protest in Namling County of Shigatse towards the last week of May 2010. (Photo: RFA)
The incident is apparently the same one reported last week
in which at least three Tibetans had been killed and 30 others wounded when police opened fire on unarmed demonstrators protesting the expansion of a gold mine they blamed for causing environmental damage.
Subsequent reports by overseas Tibetan news services said at least four Tibetans were killed in the protest incident, which took place in Palyul (Ch: Baiyu
) County of Karze (Ch: Ganzi
) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan Province.
The Chinese state-run Xinhua News Agency reported Monday that a 47-year-old Tibetan named Babo died after being hit "by a stray bullet when police fired warning shots with an anti-riot shotgun."
It said Babo led a group of villagers who attacked police with knives, clubs and stones in a dispute with police about mining in the area.
The area is a deeply Buddhist region filled with monasteries and nunneries and has been at the center of dissent for years. It saw some of the most dramatic protests during the widespread unrest against Chinese rule in the spring of 2008.Xinhua
said Babo led a group of about 30 villagers to protest the arrest of an individual businessman, Fu Liang, for illegally exploiting gold mines and damaging the grassland in the area.
More than 30 villagers then sped on motorbikes to the police station to demand Fu's release, it added.
"Police had to fire warning shots to stop the dispute and found later Babo had been accidentally wounded. Babo was rushed to hospital but died on August 16," Xinhua
said, citing a local government spokesman.
Four police were also seriously injured, and 35 villagers were arrested for the attack, it said.
The incident happened on August 15, Xinhua
said, but did not explain why it took so long to report the incident when it has already been reported widely by the overseas Tibetan news services.
It also did not specify on the fate of three other Tibetans reportedly shot dead in the same incident.
Mining in Tibet is a contentious issue. Tibetans have long been professing the faith of holding nature as being too sacred to be disturbed. But with more and more mining companies operating in Tibet, activists say there is a great danger to the region's fragile ecosystem.
Critics say Chinese and foreign mining companies are taking “undue advantage” of the troubled Tibetan situation in exploiting Tibet’s untapped mineral wealth. They argue that no significant effort is made to consult the Tibetan people or to seek their informed consent on the issue.
The restless protests by Tibetan exiles and voiceless anguish of Tibetans in Tibet are often too meek to challenge the Communist China’s discretionary authority to exploit the region’s rich mineral reserves, which were kept untapped until the Chinese occupation.
Lately Tibetans in different parts of Tibet have been able to initiate some kind of sustained protests against mining activities, and in some cases have even managed to score temporary victories.