Hundreds of police officers led by a county official and accompanied by heavy machinery descended on a lakeside Tibetan community in northwestern China’s Qinghai province on Wednesday to tear down shops, restaurants, and private homes, sources in the region said.
The June 1 assault on Tanakma (in Chinese, Heimahe) township in Chabcha (Gonghe) county in the Tsolho (Hainan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture was joined by a medical team brought along in case of injuries resulting from resistance to the demolition, a local resident told RFA’s Tibetan Service.
“[The police] began demolishing all the structures built by the Tibetan residents of Tanakma on their own land,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“The owners were not allowed to retrieve their belongings from their houses before the demolition work began,” he said.
The shops and houses built by nomads near the path circling scenic Qinghai Lake were financed by the sale of livestock and by loans from banks and wealthy individuals, the source said, adding that authorities had deemed the structures “illegal.”
No information was immediately available regarding the number of structures torn down during Wednesday’s raid, but an October 2015 assault against another Tibetan town in Chabcha county left over 900 homeless and living in tents, sources said in earlier reports.
Forced to sell
Tibetan landowners in Chabcha are often forced to sell their properties to wealthy businessmen who pay bribes to local authorities to force the sale, RFA’s source said.
“And when Tibetans try to resist the taking of their land, county officials crack down on them,” he said.
“It is extremely rare to find even one county leader who is fair and reasonable” in his dealings with Tibetans, he said.
“Both officials and business owners exploit the land owned by the nomadic community,” he said.
Tibetans living in China frequently complain of political, economic, and religious discrimination as well as human rights abuses, and sporadic demonstrations challenging rule by Beijing have continued in Tibetan-populated areas since widespread protests swept the region in 2008.
Reported by Kunsang Tenzin for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.