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CTA Prez, Tibet Support Groups call for release of those protesting against dam construction

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Sikyong Penpa Tsering, along with TSGs in Brussels, Belgium call on China to release the Tibetan detainees (Photo/CTA)

By Tenzin Nyidon 

DHARAMSHALA, Feb. 26: The recent events surrounding the detention of over 1,000 Tibetan protestors and the ongoing crackdown on dissent in response to protests against a dam construction on the Drichu River in Kham Derge, have sparked widespread concern among exiled Tibetan leadership and the global community. Sikyong Penpa Tsering, along with a coalition of over 170 members of Tibet Support Groups from 44 countries, following the successful conclusion of the 9th International Conference in Brussels, Belgium, on February 25, called for the immediate release of more than 1,000 Tibet dam protestors. 

“The crackdown on non-violent protests in Dege, Tibet is beyond condemnation. The Chinese authorities’ disregard for the rights of Tibetans is unacceptable by any measure. The punitive acts demonstrate China’s prioritisation of its ideology and interest over human rights. We call on the Chinese government to release all those detained and to respect the rights and aspirations of the Tibetan people. The world needs to hear the Tibetans’ voices and confront the truth of Chinese misrule in Tibet,” the Sikyong said. 

Recent reports indicate the impending threat posed by the Chinese Gangtuo Hydropower Station, which is slated to be constructed on the upper reaches of the Drichu River in Tibet. This project, touted as a “leading” cascade hydropower station, not only raises environmental concerns but also threatens the existence of several Tibetan monasteries and villages in its vicinity. At least six Tibetan monasteries, revered as centers of religious and cultural learning, are at risk of being completely submerged by the reservoir formed by the dam. Additionally, two villages inhabited by Tibetan communities face displacement as a result of the project.

The proposed dam will submerge Wontod Monastery, founded in the 14th century and revered for its historical significance and exquisite Tibetan Buddhist murals and artworks, facing imminent submersion due to the dam project. “These murals dating back to the 14th century will be submerged, with no attempt to save them. That is why the intensity of the protest and deep anger among the local people,” a netizen wrote on X.

Uzra Zeya, the U.S. Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues, has taken to social media platform X (formerly Twitter) to voice her concerns over reports of a mass arrest of Tibetans who were peacefully protesting against the construction of a dam. In her tweet, Zeya wrote, “Deeply concerned by reports of the PRC’s mass arrests of Tibetans protesting construction of a dam that threatens displacement of villages and destruction of monasteries. China must respect human rights and freedom of expression and include Tibetans in the development and implementation of water and land management policies. These centuries-old monasteries are home to hundreds of Tibetans preserving their unique cultural, religious, and linguistic identity.” 

One Response

  1. Thank you for helping people outside Tibet understand what China is doing to Kham Dege. It’s time to stop the dam construction and release the people the Chinese have arrested. People inside Tibet shouldn’t have to risk their lives to tell the rest of the world what is happening.
    It’s hard for people who have not lived in Asia to understand all that China is doing, not only to Tibet, but to Nepal, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Mongolia. If you have suggestions as to how people in the US can help the people abused by China to defend their lives, religions, and cultures, I would be happy to hear them.

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