Tibetan Woman Drowns in Protest Against Land Grab in Palyul

2017-06-23
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A map showing the location of Palyul county in China's Sichuan province.
A map showing the location of Palyul county in China's Sichuan province.
RFA

A Tibetan woman living in Sichuan’s Palyul county threw herself into a river and drowned last week to protest Chinese authorities’ demolition of Tibetan houses and an historic cemetery near her home, Tibetan sources said.

The woman, named Yudron, 45, acted to support Tibetan residents “upset when authorities began to destroy houses and other structures built without [official] permission on their own ancestral land,” a local source told RFA’s Tibetan Service.

“Local Tibetans believe that the houses and cemetery are being demolished to create space for government projects,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “They also think that the county leader is targeting the homes of ordinary citizens and not government workers in order to raise his profile with higher authorities.”

“This will improve his chances for promotion and other benefits,” he said.

Palyul (in Chinese, Baiyu) county residents are also unhappy with the county chief, the Communist Party Secretary for Palyul, for bringing in close associates from his own native Rongtrag (Danba) county to be placed in government jobs without considering local applicants, the source said.

On June 16, police and government workers in Palyul were sent to dig out graves and level the cemetery, called Mutha and located about two miles south of the Palyul county seat, another source said, also speaking on condition he not be named.

“This was a burial site for over a thousand years,” the source said, adding that county workers and police had removed even the remains from recent burials.

“Many local residents whose family members were buried there protested, led by a person named Trido or Tashi Dorje. The authorities threatened to detain and punish anyone who persisted in obstructing the work, but no one was detained,” he added.

Chinese development projects in Tibetan areas have led to frequent standoffs with Tibetans who accuse Chinese firms and local officials of improperly seizing land and disrupting the lives of local people.

Many result in violent suppression, the detention of protest organizers, and intense pressure on the local population to comply with the government’s wishes.

Reported by RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.

CH. 1: MANDARIN | CANTONESE

CH. 2: VIETNAMESE | BURMESE | KOREAN

CH. 3: KHMER | LAO | UYGHUR

CH. 4: TIBETAN

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