Authorities in northwestern China’s Qinghai province moved against a lakeside Tibetan township this week, tearing down over 300 private homes and shops and beating and detaining area residents who resisted the demolition work, according to a local source.
The assault on Trelnak township in Chabcha (in Chinese, Gonghe) county in the Tsolho (Hainan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture began on Oct. 16 and has continued for the last five days, the source told RFA’s Tibetan Service on Tuesday.
“So far about 300 houses owned by Tibetans have been destroyed, and the demolition is still going on,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“In the commotion, five Tibetan nomads were detained and beaten, but were later released,” he said, naming two married couples who had tried to recover personal property from the ruins of their homes and an elderly man who was threatened at gunpoint by police and taken into custody.
“On Oct. 19, Lhachen Kyab and his wife Dobe, and Yangmo Kyab and her husband Jampel, went back to collect their belongings, but the police would not allow them to do this,” he said.
“Instead, they were severely beaten and held for two hours before being released.”
Police then threatened another Tibetan—Luthar Kyab, 60—by pointing a rifle in his face before taking him away, RFA’s source said.
“He was later found in a hospital,” he said.
The demolition in Trelnak began on Oct. 16 and 17, “when a group of Chinese officials and police arrived and tore down 30 structures built by the Tibetans as dwellings and places of business around Qinghai Lake,” the source said.
The structures had been financed by personal loans and were constructed with iron sheets, with the shops set up to cater to tourists and pilgrims visiting the lake, he said.
“The authorities accused the Tibetans of polluting and crowding the area around the lake, and therefore took action to tear down the shops and homes,” he said, adding, “Now the owners are left without any source of supplemental income.”
The reported number of destroyed dwellings and shops could not be independently confirmed, and calls seeking comment from local police authorities rang unanswered Wednesday.
The campaign against Trelnak followed similar incidents in May in which temporary dwellings deemed “illegal” by authorities were torn down in villages in Chabcha and Mangra (Guinan), another Tsolho county, sources said in earlier reports.
Tibetans living in China frequently complain of political, economic, and religious discrimination as well as human rights abuses.
Sporadic demonstrations challenging Chinese rule have continued in Tibetan-populated areas of China since widespread protests swept the region in 2008, with 143 Tibetans to date setting themselves ablaze to oppose Beijing’s rule and call for the return of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.
Reported by Kunsang Tenzin for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.