Tibetan Homes Deemed 'Illegal' Are Torn Down in Qinghai


2015-05-08
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tibet-village-may82015-crop.jpg Police gather in Benshul Jeyna village, May 5, 2015.
Photo courtesy of an RFA listener

Authorities in China’s northwestern Qinghai province began this week to demolish a Tibetan village containing houses deemed to have been built without official permission, leaving many families homeless, Tibetan sources said.

The raid on Benshul Jeyna village in Mangra (in Chinese, Guinan) county in the Tsolho (Hainan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture was the second in as many years, and was led by the head of the county’s Sumdo township, a local source told RFA’s Tibetan Service.

“He brought in officials from the local offices of security and law enforcement, along with the heads of 16 area villages, with the intent to demolish the Tibetan homes,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“They said that the houses built in the village were ‘illegal,’” the source said, adding, “The work of demolition began on May 5 and will continue for a week.”

The raid on Benshul Jeyna—the largest of 16 nomad villages in Mangra county—is causing significant loss to the settlement’s Tibetan residents, who had spent “much money and effort” to rebuild homes torn down in a similar raid last year, the source said.

“Residents, including the women in the village, are crying out and protesting against the actions of the authorities, calling them unfair and unjust,” he said.

Frequent land grabs

Reasons for the targeting of Benshul Jeyna instead of other villages nearby were not clear, but rural land is frequently seized by cash-hungry local governments in China for lucrative property deals, triggering thousands of protests each year.

On April 20, 2014, authorities in Qinghai’s Kyegudo (Yushu) county in the Yulshul (Yushu) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture bulldozed several brick factories operated by Tibetans in response to pleas by rival Chinese plants, sources told RFA in earlier reports.

Kyegudo was hit by a devastating earthquake on April 14, 2010 that largely destroyed the county’s main town and killed almost 3,000 residents by official count.

Many homes later rebuilt by Tibetan families on their own land and with their own resources were then  torn down by authorities, who called the structures “illegal,” sources said.

A total of 139 Tibetans have self-immolated in China since 2009 in protest against Beijing’s rule in Tibetan-populated areas and calling for the return from exile of Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.

Reported by Dorjee Tso for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.

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