Chinese security forces enforcing the collection of money owed on government construction loans detained eight Tibetans in Qinghai province last week after occupants of state-built housing resisted moves to evict them from their homes, sources said.
The eight were taken into custody after hundreds of police were deployed into government housing projects in the town of Kyegudo in the Yulshul (in Chinese, Yushu) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, a local source told RFA’s Tibetan Service.
“On Jan. 21, eight Tibetans were detained when over 500 Chinese armed police went door to door to collect money due from Tibetan families who had requested additional construction” on state-built homes for people displaced by a 2010 earthquake, RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
No information was immediately available concerning the names of those who were detained or on where they are currently being held.
The next day, additional police surrounded the area with armored vehicles “and stopped anyone else from coming in,” the source said.
“We were not allowed to go near to see what was going on,” he said, adding, “Police took away the cell phones and cameras of anyone trying to record what was happening, and refused to give them back.”
'Inadequate' government housing
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.
Government-built housing on lots of 80 square meters were later criticized as inadequate by many displaced families, who demanded larger sites and living space with the understanding that they would one day reimburse the added expense, sources said.
“The Chinese police are telling the Tibetans that the land and buildings belong to the government, and that they now need to pay back the costs,” one source said.
“Many posters have also been displayed on high-rise buildings, calling on area residents to pay their debts on time,” he said.
Following the initial police action on Jan. 21, “the Internet was shut down in this area and was not restored again until Jan. 23,” he said.
“The police are now going from door to door and searching all the homes.”
Sporadic demonstrations challenging Beijing’s rule have continued in Tibetan-populated areas of China since widespread protests swept the region in 2008, and Chinese police routinely block information flows from Tibetan areas in an attempt to prevent unrest from spreading, sources say.
Reported by Kunsang Tenzin for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.