Authorities in a county in China's Qinghai province have demolished several brick factories operated by Tibetans in response to pleas by Chinese rival plants concerned over increasing competition, sources said.
The Chinese companies had bribed the authorities to bulldoze the Tibetan factories at Kyegudo (in Chinese, Yushu) county in the Yulshul [in Chinese, Yushu] Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture last week, the sources alleged.
"It is believed that the authorities in Yushu were bribed by the Chinese brick kiln owners, who paid 50,000 yuan [nearly U.S. $8,000] to prevent competition from the Tibetan brick kilns,” Nima, a Tibetan in exile, told RFA's Tibetan Service.
“The brick kilns owned and operated by Tibetans in Kyegudo county were destroyed while those owned by the Chinese immigrants were untouched," Nima said, citing local contacts.
In the April 20 incident, "the authorities not only deployed bulldozers to demolish the brick kilns operated by the Tibetans but also burned their tents and took away their mobile phones and also beat those who tried to resist the demolition," according to Nima, a Kyegudo native.
It was not immediately clear how many factories were destroyed or how many of the owners were injured by the beatings. Local authorities were not immediately available for comment.
Kyegudo was hit by a devastating earthquake on April 14, 2010, that largely destroyed the town and killed almost 3,000 residents by official count.
Many of the homes later torn down by authorities were built by families on their own land and with their own resources, sources have said.
In March, the Chinese authorities destroyed several "illegal" houses and shops set up by Tibetans in a small Tibetan nomadic town called Karda, not far from Kyegudo town, the sources said.
"The local Tibetans had built small houses as part of a cooperative business center. They did not seek permission from the local authorities, who called the structures illegal and dispatched a demolition team [to destroy them]," Nima said. "As the Tibetan shops were destroyed, their merchandise was scattered everywhere."
"Tibetans who tried to salvage their belongings were beaten by Chinese police and harassed."
Tibetans in Kyegudo complain that the Chinese authorities do not issue permits to Tibetans to operate language centers, shops, and restaurants while applications to set up such businesses by Chinese immigrants are easily approved.
"These are explicit actions of discrimination committed by local authorities favoring Han Chinese immigrants over the local Tibetans," Nima said.
Tibetans in China complain of political, religious, and economic discrimination as well as human rights abuses. A total of 131 Tibetans have self-immolated in China since 2009 in protest against Chinese rule in Tibetan-populated areas and calling for the return from exile of Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.
Sporadic demonstrations challenging Beijing’s rule have continued in Tibetan-populated areas of China since widespread protests swept the region in 2008.
Reported by Lobe Socktsang for RFA's Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Parameswaran Ponnudurai.