Chinese police on Thursday attacked a group of Tibetans protesting the threatened destruction of shops and guesthouses they had built to cater to tourists visiting a scenic stretch of Qinghai Lake, sources in the region said.
The June 23 assault in Chabcha (in Chinese, Gonghe) county in northwestern China’s Qinghai province left at least eight seriously hurt, one local resident told RFA’s Tibetan Service.
“Today in the afternoon, the head of the county arrived with about 30 police officers, and they beat up eight Tibetans from Karla and Choeje villages in Trelnak township,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“Some of them received serious injuries to their heads and legs,” he said.
The police assault followed a demand by authorities two days before that Tibetans running small businesses in the area of Qinghai Lake demolish their shops, guest houses, and personal dwellings and leave the area, the source said.
“But the Tibetans were reluctant to comply, as they had invested large sums of money in the building of their structures,” he said.
'We need to eat'
Several hundred business owners carrying a banner reading “We Need to Eat, We Need to Survive” then marched in protest along the road that circles the lake, “but authorities did not listen to their appeal,” the source said.
“Instead, security forces attacked the Tibetans, injuring several of them.”
This week’s protest follows earlier moves by authorities in nearby towns to tear down “illegal structures” built by Tibetans hoping to attract business from the many tourists who visit the lake each year.
Hundreds of such structures have been demolished in recent months, sources say.
“Land grabs, destruction of property and environmental exploitation have become increasingly common sources of dispute between Tibetans and local authorities in the last few years,” Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren, director of the London-based rights group Free Tibet, said in a June 23 statement.
“Tibetans continue to stand up for their rights, while their sense of grievance about Chinese rule grows ever deeper,” Byrne-Rosengren said.
Reported by Kunsang Tenzin, Lobsang Choephel, and Lhuboom for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.