Chinese police descended in force on Friday at a Tibetan protest site near Qinghai Lake, detaining five protesters a day after an assault by authorities on Tibetan villagers left eight seriously injured, sources in the region said.
The five were taken into custody without explanation at around 8:00 a.m. local time on June 24, a Tibetan resident of the area told RFA’s Tibetan Service.
“A large Chinese security force arrived in three large vehicles packed with police and another 20 vehicles carrying unidentified officials,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Five protesters were immediately detained, the source said, naming four of those taken into custody as Lhachen Kyab, Jigje Delek Gyatso, Rinchen Bum, and a woman named Tashi Drolma.
All five were residents of Trelnak township's Karla and Dose villages in Qinghai province’s Chabcha (in Chinese, Gonghe) county, the source said.
“They were taken away without any reason being given or court document being shown,” he said.
“It was a sheer display of force and intimidation.”
Others held over photos
Following a police assault on protesters the day before in which eight were badly beaten, an unknown number of Tibetans were also detained “on suspicion of taking photos of the Chinese crackdown,” the source said.
The attack followed a demand by authorities on June 21 that Tibetans running small businesses near Qinghai Lake demolish their shops, guest houses, and personal dwellings and leave the area, sources said in earlier reports.
The structures, deemed ‘illegal’ by authorities, had been built to cater to tourists visiting a scenic stretch of the lake, sources said.
Several hundred business owners then marched in protest along a road that circles the lake, “but authorities did not listen to them,” one source said.
“Instead, security forces attacked the Tibetans, injuring several of them.”
“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 for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.