Hundreds of Jobless Tibetans Protest in Qinghai Province


2004.10.08
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WASHINGTON—At least 200 mostly Tibetan students have been protesting outside local government offices in China’s western Qinghai Province for more than two weeks. The students say officials have failed to deliver on promises to provide jobs to graduates.

"Their main complaint was that jobs are given to outside candidates who are brought into the area and they demanded that local applicants should be given preference."

Sources who spoke to RFA’s Tibetan service say at least 200 students began camping Sept. 21 near the Golog Prefecture government office in the southeastern quarter of Qinghai Province in western China, a traditionally Tibetan region now under Qinghai administration.

"They’ve been camping in different-sized tents close to the Golog government building since Sept. 21," said one source who asked not to be named. “Local government officials appealed to the youths, who are mostly Tibetan, not to protest and assured them they would be given jobs when jobs are available, but they didn’t [disperse].”

Officials offered tents, food

Local government officials were so worried that some continued working through the holiday week around China’s Oct. 1 National Day to try to persuade the students to end their demonstration, sources said. Officials initially provided food and tents to the protesters, they said.

The students are notably complaining that their families were encouraged to pay high college fees—often by selling family property or livestock—with the promise that their children would secure good jobs upon graduating, the source said.

“But when many of these students graduated and came back to Golog and applied for jobs, they couldn’t find jobs, and their families were in trouble,” he said.

Silent protest

A Chinese government official in area confirmed that the protest began Sept. 21 with at least 200 students taking part—most of them Tibetan but some Chinese students as well.

“They are camping in a courtyard close to Golog Prefecture government building,” he said, adding that their numbers had dwindled. “They were not shouting or raising slogans but protesting in silence."

"Their main demands were equal distribution of jobs for all with due preference to local applicants as assured by government officials,” he said. “But the situation changed after they went to higher institutions. Many government departments were closed and therefore there are fewer jobs available.”

"Their main complaint was that jobs are given to outside candidates who are brought into the area and they demanded that local applicants should be given preference," he said. “Moreover, they do have written assurance of jobs from government officials."

Copies of a letter containing the students’ demands are pasted on government building walls, he said, adding, “It’s difficult to resolve this issue since there are not enough jobs for all the protesters."

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