UPDATED at 10:00 a.m. EST on 04/06/2017
Nearly 200 Tibetan families have been ordered to leave their homes in a county in eastern Tibet to make way for an unspecified government construction project, with the move to new locations to be made at their own expense, according to a local source.
The families now live in two towns lying on opposite sides of the Gyalmo Ngulchu, or Salween River, in Dzogang (in Chinese, Zuogang) and Pashoe (Basu) counties in the Chamdo (Changdu) prefecture of the Tibet Autonomous Region, a resident of the area told RFA’s Tibetan Service.
No explanation was given for the order to move, RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“But the local Tibetans believe that mining or some similar project is being planned for the area, and that this is why they are being told to leave against their own wishes,” he said.
“The families who are being forced to move have had to register their names with the authorities,” he added.
Chinese authorities had initially promised those families registered for removal compensation of from 12,000 to 20,000 yuan (U.S. $2,176 to $2,901) to help with expenses of their move, but the offer was later withdrawn, the source said.
“This has placed many poor families in jeopardy, since they cannot stay at their present location, and if they move they may have to do this with money they don’t have,” he said.
Though many families affected by the order have filed appeals asking for permission to remain in their homes, authorities have told them that the requirement they leave is a government order that must be obeyed, the source said.
“No one knows for sure why these families are being told to leave, but some say that the government is planning to build 13 hydropower dams on the Gyalmo Ngulchu, while others have mentioned a large road project in the area.”
“Others are talking about a mining project at a sacred mountain that has been examined by Chinese geological surveyors many times since 1991,” the source said, adding, “The mountain is believed to have rich deposits of ore.”
Tibetan areas of China have become an important source of minerals needed for China’s economic growth, and mining operations have led to frequent standoffs with Tibetans who accuse Chinese firms of disrupting sites of spiritual significance and polluting the environment as they extract local wealth.
In June 2014, police detained 60 men from a village in Dzogang rocked by protests over Chinese plans to excavate gold, sources told RFA in earlier reports.
The protests followed the death in May of a local Tibetan who stabbed himself and jumped from a roof to oppose the project.
Reported by Sangye Dorjee for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.
UPDATE: This story provides updated information on the location of the two villages targeted for evictions.