Seven Tibetans Detained in Tsolho Over Resale of Gasoline

In a practice previously ignored by police, they had brought small quantities back to sell to friends in need.

A map showing the location of Tsolho prefecture in China's Qinghai province.

Public security officers in northwestern China ‘s Qinghai province have begun to restrict the unauthorized resale of gasoline by Tibetan villagers, recently detaining five men and two women in a police sweep and threatening further arrests, Tibetan sources say.

Taken into custody were villagers living about 30 miles away from the Choeje and Oje townships of the Tsolho (in Chinese, Hainan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, an area resident told RFA’s Tibetan Service.

“Though they live at this distance from the towns, they must go there to get gasoline for their farming machinery, motorcycles, and cars, since they have no gas pumps in their villages,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Villagers going to the towns to fill their gas tanks often bring small containers to fill and take home for future use, and sometimes sell one or two liters at a time to other villagers who have run low, the source said, describing this as “a regular practice in the past.”

“They are not involved in mass distribution or in resale for profit,” the source said, adding, “They do this just to be of help.”

“The authorities never bothered about this before,” he said.

“Though the local government hasn’t installed gas pumps in the villages, they still send spies there to take pictures of secret transactions and use these later as evidence to charge villagers with illegally trading in fuel,” he said.

Purchases of gasoline have from time to time been restricted in Tibetan areas hit by self-immolation protests challenging rule by Beijing, sources have told RFA in earlier reports.

“But we’ve had no burnings in this area,” RFA’s source in Tsolho said.

“We’ve only had peaceful protests here.”

Reported by Kunsang Tenzin for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Richard Finney.