Updated at 9.45 p.m. EST on 2013-02-01
Residents of a township in Tibet have threatened to destroy a Chinese-operated slaughterhouse polluting local sources of drinking water after authorities ignored their petitions to shut it down, Tibetan sources said on Friday.
The slaughterhouse in the Tibet Autonomous Region’s Markham (in Chinese, Mangkang) county was constructed in July last year following months of delays as local families refused to sell land on which it could be built, a Tibetan resident of the area told RFA’s Tibetan Service, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“The Tibetans refused to sell [the Chinese owner] any land,” RFA’s source said.
“Finally, a family ended up selling their land for the hefty sum of 350,000 yuan [U.S. $50,616.], and after the plant began its operations, local Tibetans complained that waste from the slaughterhouse was being dumped in a nearby river and was polluting their sources of drinking water.”
On Jan. 29, area residents took their complaints to Markham township authorities, but were told that the facility’s Chinese owner had legally purchased the land and that operations could not be halted.
Police then detained three leaders of the group presenting the petition, RFA’s source said.
Local Tibetans believe that the facility’s Chinese owner has bribed local officials to rule in his favor, and they have vowed to “destroy” the slaughterhouse if it is not closed down, a Tibetan source in exile said, citing local contacts.
Conflicts over the operation of slaughterhouses in Tibetan areas have led to frequent clashes between Tibetans and Chinese in recent years.
On Nov. 29, 2011, Tibetan herders angered at the theft of their livestock attacked a Chinese-owned slaughterhouse in Sichuan, demolishing the building and scattering meat along the road.
The incident sparked a clash between Tibetans and local police, with protesters seizing and destroying police weapons and damaging vehicles.
In a 2007 report, No One Has the Liberty to Refuse, New York-based Human Rights Watch noted spreading “concerted protests” by Tibetans against Chinese-operated slaughterhouses being built in Tibetan areas.
“Local people in areas where these incidents took place claim that they have been ordered to donate animals for slaughter on a per-household basis,” the report said.
In some cases, local protests have been led by religious figures, who have spoken against the killing of animals for their meat.
Reported by RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Richard Finney.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of the story said the family had sold the land for 35,000 yuan (U.S. $5,616)