Tibetan 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)
Dharamsala, Februrary 14 – 15 Tibetans including 5 monks of Linka monastery were arrested by the Chinese police and several others injured in a crackdown on Tibetan protesters and Chinese security personnel in Tamo township, Shigatse Prefecture, reported the website of the Tibetan government in exile based here.
The incident occurred on November 22, 2010 when hundreds of Tibetans attempted to disrupt mining works near Linka monastery in Tamo. Officials from the government run mining company tried to dissuade the protesters from disrupting extraction works but did not succeed.
The local government of Shethongmon sent riot police to disrupt the demonstrations but the protesters did not yield to police pressure. A large contingent of public security bureau and armed personnel were sent from Shigatse to crackdown on the protesters, many of whom got beaten up and arrested. Khenpo Kelsang, aged 49; Jamyang Tsering, 38; Tsewang Dorje, 37; Rigzin Pema, 35 and Jamyang Rigsang, 34, of Lingka Monastery were among the arrested.
The monks from Lingka Monastery and the local Tibetans protested against the mining operation till December 18, 2010.
Such cases of forcible mineral extraction by the Chinese government against the will of the Tibetan people is not new in Shigatse, according to the Tibetan government's website. “On 5 June 2010, Tibetan residents of Sogchen village in Namling county strongly protested the exploitation of their region's rich mineral resources. The police and army used force to crush the peaceful protest of Tibetans, many were severely beaten up and around 30 detained. The whereabouts of the detainees still remain unknown.”
Mining in Tibet has been 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 full “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.
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.
Earlier in June 2009, a tense standoff over a planned Chinese gold mine in Markham County, in Chamdo Prefecture in "TAR", was forced to be resolved in favour of local Tibetans after vigorous anti-mining protests for weeks. The dispute occurred over operations of the mine set up by a Chinese firm at Ser Ngol Lo (Year of gold and silver), a mountain considered sacred by Tibetans. Tibetan protesters were facing armed Chinese security forces at the site, where Chinese mining and Lumbering firm, Zhongkai Co, had been authorized to excavate.
In May last year, at least five protesters, including two women, were injured as thousands of Tibetan villagers in Markham County renewed protests against mining operations on mountains they consider sacred. Protesters targeted three mines located at Tsongshen, Choeten, and Deshoe in the county.