Authorities in southwestern China’s Sichuan province have called a temporary halt to mining activities near a sacred mountain in the face of continuing Tibetan protests demanding that the work be stopped, according to a local source.
Tibetans living in Akhore town in the Ngaba (in Chinese, Aba) Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture’s Chuchen (Jinchuan) county had for weeks blockaded construction of a road they feared would support mining operations in the area.
Now, all work related to the project has been “temporarily halted,” due probably to the strength of local resistance and coverage of the protests by international media, a Tibetan resident of the area told RFA’s Tibetan Service this week.
“Appeals by Tibetans in Akhore town to local and central authorities may also have played a role,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“In any case, authorities have stopped all mining in the area for now,” he said.
Tibetans living in the area remain skeptical, though, that the work has been halted for good, he said.
“They know very well that the mining project on the sacred mountain near Akhore is a part of China’s broader mining plans, and that they can resume mining in the area whenever they choose to do so.”
Police had warned Tibetan protesters on May 20 not to block construction of road work in the area, threatening them with “serious consequences” if they failed to comply, sources told RFA in earlier reports.
Two months before, police had clashed with community members protesting authorities’ failure to respond to their concerns over the work, one source said.
Police “randomly beat up Tibetan protesters, including an old man in his 60s” during the March 28 protest, the source said.
“They also took away seven Tibetans who were detained for seven to 20 days and then released. Several among them suffered serious injuries.”
Tibet has become an important source of minerals needed for China’s economic growth, and Chinese mining operations in Tibetan areas have often led to widespread environmental damage, including the pollution of water sources for livestock and humans and the disruption of sacred sites, experts say.
Reported by Sonam Wangdu for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.