By Phuntsok Yangchen
DHARAMSHALA, July 2: At least nine Tibetans have been arrested by Chinese police in Dechen County in Tibet’s Kham region following protests against mining operations in Martak village in Yama township on Monday. A Tibetan source said that around two hundred policemen arrived at the mining site near Gongla mountain which the locals say holds religious significance to the Tibetans.
Several Tibetans also have been injured in the ensuing police crackdown on the protesters, the same source said. Images sent from the site by witnesses show a Tibetan woman and a man lying on the ground, unconscious. Police deleted videos taken by bystanders with cellphones, the source added.
According to the source, the Chinese have built motorable road to the mountain that is rich in copper. Tibetans had approached the miners to stop operations but the miners refused to comply with the Tibetans leading to a dispute between the two. Some claim that the company’s license for mining has been forged and called the mining "illegal". The source said that Tibetans cut pipes laid down for the mining operations on the mountain in retaliation.
The mining company has been extracting copper from the region for past five or six years. It had recently constructed a road to the mountain on learning about presence of copper ore.
The local Tibetans visited the County office with an appeal for the release of the arrested Tibetans. However, the Chinese authorities warned the Tibetans that it would cost them their lives if they continued their opposition to mining operations in the area.
Last month, over twenty Tibetans were detained by Chinese authorities in Chabcha County in Tsolho (Hainan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture for protesting against an illegal Chinese mining in the region.
A 32-year-old Tibetan named Phakpa Gyaltsen died in May after stabbing himself and jumping from a building in protest against Chinese mining activities in Tongbar region of Zogang County in Chamdo.