Tibetan anti-mining protesters face violence under China & foreign corporate interests

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Tibetan demonstrators in the
Tibetan protesters from the Yushu Prefecture in the Tibetan Autonomous region of China sit in silent peaceful protest at the site of two mining projects that have plans to begin construction. After 3 days of protest Chinese security forces push through the crowds with tear gas, stun guns and batons injuring numerous demonstrators. Image: Free Tibet

(WNN) Jiegu, Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Southern Qinghai Province, CHINA. WESTERN ASIA: As peaceful non-violent protests working in efforts to stop the actions of mining in China’s Tibetan Autonomous Region, human rights organization Free Tibet has released news that local Tibetan protesters trying to stop the mining have faced increased intimidation, violence and arbitrary arrest from Chinese security forces.

Clashes began on Tuesday August 13 and continued into Friday August 16 as government sponsored construction workers began working on 3 separate mining sites in the region. Mining  has been hotly contested since 2006 in the region as multi-corporate mergers involving Chinese as well as foreign interests, like Vancouver, Canada based China Gold International Resources Corporation, have expanded. The corporate interests hope to gain financially from mining operations in the Tibetan Autonomous Region that yields copper, gold and other valued metals from the high plateau reigion that was once the nation of Tibet.

Many of the mining operations use open pit mines that strip the land and force natural habitat from the region, say experts.

“Tibet’s rich mineral deposits have become a resource curse for the local residents and ecosystem. Since the late ’60s, these mineral deposits have been exploited in various scales, mostly under poor environmental norms and regulations. As for the minerals extracted, copper, chromium, gold, lead, iron and zinc are the minerals of greatest interest to Chinese and other foreign miners operating in Tibet,” outlined an April 2013 assessment report by the Environment & Development Desk for the Department of Information and International Relations – Central Tibetan Administration. “These are being mined to different extents at various locations throughout the Tibetan Plateau,” continued the report.

“Now with a strong policy backing from Beijing designating mining in Tibet as one of Beijing’s ‘Four Pillar’ industries, Tibet’s holy landscapes, lakes and the pristine rivers will face more destruction, pollution and most of all the local residents will have no option but to silently witness the ecocide of the Tibetan Plateau,” the 2013 report continued.

Beginning in the Gedrong Zatoe county in the Tibetan Yushu Prefecture, members from the local community gathered at two different mining sites. Their message to security forces to stop mine construction outlined that mine officials actually did not have legal rights to operate because they did not follow proper legal statues according to China’s constitution and the Law of the Tibetan Regional National Autonomy.

Demonstrators later erected large banners at the entrance to the mines with a large image of China’s current President Xi Jinping. Under the picture of China’s president were quotes from one of his speeches talking about the importance of protecting the environment “for future generations.”

According to Free Tibet, after a 3 day stand-off Chinese security forces moved in violently to break up the demonstrators by firing tear gas into the crowd. Eye-witness reports in the use of electric prods have also been documented.

Banner of China's President Xi Jinping
Tibetan demonstrators who are hoping to close down mining operations in the region place a large banner at the entrance of 3 mines that are beginning construction near the town of Jiegu in the high plateau region of the Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Southern Qinghai Province of China. Image: Free Tibet

“There are unconfirmed reports that 40 Tibetans were injured,” said Free Tibet. “An unknown number of protesters, both men and women, have been arrested and local community leader Kaitsa Soldor, who was reported to be among the leaders of the protest, has been missing since the incident,” the human rights organization continued.

“Every community has the right to determine how its land is used and environment protected,” outined Free Tibet Director Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren. “Tibetans care as deeply for their environment as British anti-fracking protesters or Indonesians resisting logging care for theirs. Tibetans have repeatedly challenged Chinese authorities over this fundamental issue but they are denied the rights to protect their land or to protest when it is threatened. Yet again, the occupying Chinese state has resorted to brutal violence to defend its exploitation of Tibet’s natural resources and its devastation of Tibet’s natural environment,” Byrne-Rosengren added.

Another protester injured during the clash, 27-year-old Sogpo Choedup, is reported to have been taken away by security forces and hospitalized following his suicide attempt made as a formal protest to the continued mining in the region.

Open pit mining, is considered by many locals as well as global environmental advocates, to have lasting and ‘harmful environmental effects’.  The interests in procuring metals from the region against a local population of people who want their land to stay pristine has also created increasing conflict, injury and death in the region, including self-immolation protests that have increased substantially in the past five years.

“When a landslide killed more than 80 miners in the Tibet Autonomous Region in April [2013], just two of those killed were reported to be Tibetan – the rest of the workers were Chinese immigrants,” continued Free Tibet.

Even though the local community of Tibetans in the region are suffering under what many have called ‘government imposed policies’, government officials at the very highest levels in China continue to look away from what advocates describe as the ‘real struggle’ of the Tibetan people, who are now asking to be given a choice in their own society and religion, as well as the use of their ancestral lands.

“China has made important progress on human rights,” said former Chinese Ambassador to the United States and current Council member Yang Jiechi, in a recent July 11, 2013 conference statement reported by AFP news. “People in various regions in China including Xinjiang and Tibet are enjoying happier lives and they are enjoying unprecedented freedoms,”  continued the Council member during the conference. Jiechi is currently a high ranking member of China’s State Council, the governing and policy body for China.


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