By Phuntsok Yangchen
DHARAMSHALA, May 14: Following the death of a Tibetan in protest against Chinese mining activities in Tongbar town of Zogang County in Chamdo, reports have emerged of arrest of at least 30 Tibetans in Lhatok town in Chamdo in January this year.
At least thirty Tibetans who had signed the petitions against mining were arrested and tortured severely in January this year, a Tibetan source said. Two Tibetans who were accused of leading the campaign against the mining were starved for twenty days, he added. The Tibetans were warned of “serious consequences” if they protested any mining projects in their villages and town.
On January 6, around 500 soldiers and police faced angry protesters in Lhatok town where the Chinese authorities were planning to start a mining project. A Tibetan source said the Chinese authorities had made attempts to start the project in 2003, 2006 and 2013 but failed to implement due to strong opposition from the local Tibetan populace.
On Feb. 4, 2013, Chinese government officials accompanied by local Tibetan officials from Lhatok township tried to convince the Tibetans to allow the project to continue promising monetary compensation and construction of roads. The officials presented before the Tibetans government orders authorizing the project.
The Tibetans, however, refused to comply. The authorities ignored the protests and went ahead with construction of roads leading to the mining area. Around fifty Tibetans submitted signed petitions to the higher authorities at Chamdo prefecture and Tibet Autonomous Region.
The situation in Chamdo remains tense with another Tibetan attempting to kill himself to express his support for Phakpa Gyalsten who died after stabbing himself and throwing himself from a building last week in Tongbar.
Rigzin, 34, was stopped by local Tibetans from attempting to stab himself, and taken to a Chamdo hospital for treatment. His condition is not known as Chinese police prevent anyone visiting him at the hospital.
Tibetans have long argued that China’s grand projects in Tibet are planned and implemented without consultation, consent, and knowledge of the local Tibetans. Protests against mining by Tibetans in various regions of Tibet have been frequent in the past.
The Dharamshala based Central Tibetan Administration maintains that Beijing, “under the guise of economic and social development, encourages the migration of Chinese population to Tibet, marginalising the Tibetans in economic, educational, political and social spheres.”