Dharamshala — In order to mine the minerals at the holy Mountain in Akhori Township Chuchen County, Ngaba, Amdo Tibet, the Chinese government started road construction in the name of building a new power station. This behaviour instigated protests among local Tibetans. The Chinese government then took steps to repress the protests, and sent policemen to assault Tibetans and take local people into custody. Last Friday (May 20), the government sent more police to Akhori Township to threaten and intimidate the local Tibetans.
According to a local contact in Chuchen County (Ch: Jinchuan, Aba Prefecture, Sichuan), Tibetans in Akhori Township started a protest against government-supported mining on March 28th, 2016. However, the police repressed this protest, and a clash between the police and local Tibetans followed. During this fight, 20 Tibetans were beaten up, 7 people were detained for 7 to 20 days, and some of them were severely injured due to the police's physical attack. This Tuesday, Tibet Post International (TPI) also received a series of photos about this case from a local source.
The local sources told TPI, 'Akhori Township in Chuchen County is in the high-altitude nomad region, occupying a large area of old-growth forest. Since ancient times, this place has been a holy place for Tibetans, and thus protected from destruction. However, a minority of profit-driven enterprises and short-sighted officials ignore the constant appeal and objections from local Tibetans. They dared to develop this holy land without having any communication or negotiations with local people. Besides this, they also stole the yaks, hunt wildlife, and destroyed the local natural ecosystem. This leads to the vicious conflict between the police and the local people.'
According to the local contact, 'Since the March of 2013, the government has used the construction of power stations as an excuse to target local mining resources. To this end, construction workers were brought into the Akhori Township and were prepared to exploit a holy mountain, which is shared by pilgrims from four villages. Being repeatedly dissuaded by representatives and nomads from four villages, the government brought the mining to a stop. However, on March 28 this year, more construction workers entered Akhori Township, and an excavator and a loader were started to construct the road. After knowing this, around 200 nomads immediately went to the site and tried to intervene, hoping the operation could once again be brought to an end.'
'On the same day, both police chief and police deputy of the County Police Office, together with the head of the township and other officials, came to the site. However, these officials turned a deaf ear to the nomads' objections; instead, 80 or more policemen were sent to intervene. Meanwhile, a physical conflict occurred between the police and local people. This incident resulted in 20 nomads being beaten up, and seven people being taken into custody, including a 60-year-old man. They were detained for seven days, 15 days, and 20 days separately. Some of them were seriously injured at the time of release,' TPI source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
'four kilometers away from the most holy mountain among Tibetans in Akhori Township, the balance of resources and environment has already been damaged. Yet the government claimed that they would build two more large-scale power stations as planned, within 4 kilometers from the holy mountain. However, the construction workers confessed that their final goal was to mine the minerals. Four representatives of four villages, including Akhori, in our township once submitted an urgent petition to higher authorities, pleading with the government to protect the local environmental resources.
However, governmental officials warned them that, anyone hampering the construction plan would be sent to the prison without exception. The representative of all Tibetans in Akhori Township have also submitted appealing letters, pleading letters, and specific letters to relevant officials, reporting the collective incident on March 28th this year. The letters ask the government to attend to this incident with justice - to protect the land that the nomads live on, respect the religion of nomads, and stop destroying the ecological environment. The petition is against the abuse of power from the police who detained the nomads, violated their freedom, and arbitrarily undermined their dignity.'
The local contact reflected that the government has been unwilling to hear the nomads' appeals. On the 20th of this month, more police were dispatched to the Akhori Township, threatening to prosecute the nomads who obstruct construction. Regarding this coercive control from the government, nomads became frustrated, and hoped for an intervention and support from world environmental organizations. The local contact added, 'whatever violent means the government would use, the determination and resolution to protect the holy mountain from local people has not been diminished.'
'Tibetans in Akhori Township will keep on negotiating the situation with the government without fear. Last Friday (May 20th), a large group of police entered the Akhori Township by vehicles. They went on patrol, using amplifiers to threaten and intimidate the nomads.
The nomads were told not to obstruct the 'construction project', otherwise, they will face fines, detainment, or other administrative penalties. Although the nomads were still protecting the holy mountain, it is hard to say how long they can persist under conditions of oppression and violence,' TPI source further said, adding: 'Hence, all the Tibetans in Akhori Township wish to call for global attention in attending to their situation via the media, especially attention from environmental organizations, in the hope of a critical intervention that might lend support to the nomads, as soon as possible.'