Photo: Tenzin Sonam
DHARAMSHALA, March 23: Over 200 Tibetans and supporters observed the UN-declared World Water Day on Sunday with a series of events to shine a light on China’s rampant environmental degradation on the Tibetan plateau and its impacts on rivers and environment in several countries downstream.
Jointly organized by Tibetan Women’s Association and Students for a Free Tibet-India, Tibet activists performed a street theatre in McLeod Ganj, bustling at this time of the year with foreign and domestic tourists, to protest China’s exploitation of Tibet’s ecology and it’s negative impact on Asia. They held placards saying “Tibet Dies, Asia Dries”, “Be Strong India: Stand Up for Brahmaputra” and “Save Tibetan Rivers”. This was followed by a screening of Michael Buckley’s short film on exploitation of Tibet’s rivers and mining in Tibet ‘Plundering Tibet’, and a talk by Mr. Tempa Gyaltsen of the Tibet Policy Institute, CTA, on Tibet’s fragile environment, and consequences.
Dorjee Tseten, Asia Director of SFT, leads a procession of a street theatre depicting China's environmental destruction/March 22, 2015, Photo: Tenzin Sonam
“For centuries, the 11 downstream nations of Tibet including China have had access to the free flow of rivers from Tibet, bringing not only water for irrigation but rich nutrients for growing crops,” said Dorji Kyi of Tibetan Women’s Association. “However, over the last sixty years, China’s policies in Tibet of excessive mining and damming, and water-diversion projects, has created a severe environmental crisis, which will have negative impacts for all the downstream countries, including India,” she added.
“The Brahmaputra River originates from Tibet as the Yarlung Tsangpo, which is the lifeline of India and Bangladesh. Under Chinese occupation, the Yarlung Tsangpo has been dammed extensively, and there are plans to divert its water to mainland China. This will have devastating consequences for India and Bangladesh”, said Jyotsna George, Campaigns Director, Students for a Free Tibet-India.
As a concerned citizen of India, today on World Water Day, we are taking the opportunity to launch a petition to India and leaders of the other 9 downstream nations to come together and raise their voice to protect their lifeline: Tibet’s rivers. Only if they jointly stand up to China’s blatant stealing of Tibet’s rivers, will they be able to establish water security in Asia”, she concluded.
Students for a Free Tibet-India and Tibetan Women’s Association submitted Letters of Concern to the Indian Prime Ministers Office, and Embassies of Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos in Delhi in the lead-up to World Water Day.