Chinese authorities in Tibet’s Chamdo prefecture have forced Tibetan nomads from their land following the discovery of mineral reserves near a local mountain, moving those evicted to resettlement housing set up along a nearby highway, RFA has learned.
The move followed nearly ten years of mining of copper, lead, and gold already carried out around Yulung mountain in Chamdo’s Jomda (in Chinese, Jiangda) county, a local resident told RFA’s Tibetan Service.
“Last year, Chinese officials discovered additional reserves in the area of Lhato behind Yulung mountain,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“Therefore, early in 2017, they confiscated most of that land from the nomads living there, and they have put fences around the mining area,” the source said.
Authorities then warned local Tibetans not to go onto the land to collect caterpillar fungus, which is valued for its purported medicinal properties and was an important source of income for Lhato area Tibetans, the source said.
“And on top of that, they have now also lost their livelihood as nomads, which was passed down to them for generations,” he said.
About 400 to 500 nomad families in Lhato have been affected by the seizure of their land, with little money paid to them to compensate for their losses, the source said.
“In the past, the Tibetans appealed many times to Chinese authorities to stop mining operations in the area, as these have polluted the environment and caused widespread illness from cast-off waste, but the Chinese have never heeded their complaints,” he said.
Others also forced to move
In April 2017, nearly 200 Tibetan families were ordered to leave their homes in another Chamdo area to make way for an unspecified government construction project, with the move to new locations to be made at their own expenses, sources told RFA in an earlier report.
The families now live in two towns lying on opposite sides of the Gyalmo Ngulchu, or Salween River, in Chamdo’s Dzogang (Zuogang) and Pashoe (Basu) counties, sources said, adding that no explanation was given for their order to move.
And in June 2014, police detained 60 men from a village in Dzogang rocked by protests over Chinese plans to excavate gold, sources said.
The protests followed the death in May of a local Tibetan who stabbed himself and jumped from a roof to oppose the project.
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.
Reported by Dawa Dolma for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Richard Finney.