Dharamshala — In response to the unfounded allegation by the Chinese authorities, Sikyong Dr Lobsang Sangay with Tempa Gyaltsen of Tibet Policy Institute's Environment and Development Desk conducted a press conference to deny Central Tibetan Administration's involvement in the recent anti-mining protests in the Amchok township of Amdo province, north-eastern Tibet.
In a circular passed by People's Government of the Amchok County, it says 'Recently in our county, some conspiratorial individuals have organized some innocent folks. In the name of protecting the Holy Gong-ngon Lari Mountain and the environment, they have nearly a hundred people illegally gathered to interrupt the regular production of the Nahedi Gold Mine. They also have colluded with the foreign anti-China forces, distorted the reality, and recklessly publicized the misrepresentations. This behavior has resulted in vicious impacts and serious consequences. The police have already targeted at and arrested some of the main figures. At the moment, some folks, being bewitched and coerced by some individuals, are still gathering around the monastery – this is seriously against the law. We hope you all to maintain the sober mind, distinguish right from wrong, and not participate the illegal gathering. Or else, all the consequences are on your own'.
Condemning the circular, Sikyong said "The baseless accusation made by the local Chinese authorities about Central Tibetan Administration' involvement in the anti-mining protests in Tibet is simply unacceptable. These protests are result of the occupation of Tibet, repression of the Tibetan people and environmental destruction."
He further pointed out the Human Rights Law which universally grants the right to the freedom of peaceful assembly, which the Chinese have repeatedly violated and continue to do so. "In the same circular, it was said that association or meeting of this kind will be punished and those arrested will be beaten and tortured. As per human rights law, everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly. The right applies to peaceful protests and demonstrations, public and private meetings etc. Association of people at any level is inherent human right of every individual. Therefore, to have an official local circular which categorically declares punishment for peaceful protestors is against the human rights norm and hence, it is unacceptable."
Sikyong also cited CTA's environment policy in criticism of environmental exploitation in Minyak and Amchok. "As far as CTA is concerned, our environmental policy or principles are as follows: Any project related to environment has to environmentally sustainable, culturally sensitive in the context of Tibetan people's religious and cultural sentiment, economically beneficial to the local Tibetans and fourth it has be legal and in consent with the local Tibetan people of the area where the project is taking place. However, the mining activities in Minyak and Amchok are in clear violation of Chinese environmental guidelines and the four environmental principles of the Central Tibetan Administration".
Adding to it, he said "First of all, the extractions are illegal, there have been an increase in the number of cases of environmental degradation caused by Chinese mining activities in Tibet, Chinese government in general, local authorities and private corporations engaged in mining in the Tibetan areas have not sought the consent of the local people nor respected their religious sentiments and the developments have not benefited the local Tibetans".
Tempa Gyaltsen, the researcher gave an elaborated report on the environmental abuses and the subsequent protests by the Tibetans living in Tibet. He said "Since 2009, there have been 30 recorded cases of anti-mining protests in Tibet and 2016 has seen the most number of protests than in the previous years. As of recently, Tibetans in Minyak Lhagang, Dartsedo County in Karze Prefecture held two-day protest against the Lichu river contamination caused by lithium extraction in the area. The mining were temporarily put at halt stating "environmental problems" and in order to "resolve remaining issues". Last week, about 2000 Tibetans in amchok protested gold mining in the sacred mountain of Gong-ngon Lari, in Amchok town, Sangchu county, Kanlho Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture."
He urged the Chinese government to treat the environmental and religious concerns seriously as it had resulted in self-immolations in past. "The Chinese government and the local authorities should take concern of the rising number of anti-mining protests by Tibetans and resort to better treatment of the situation, instead of discharging punishment. Two Tibetans from Amchok, Tsering Dhondup and Kunchok Tsering, have self immolated at the mine site to protest the unethical mining, similarly a Tibetan self-immolator named Tsultrim Gyatso, in his will, criticised Chinese mining activities at Tibetan holy sites".