China revokes grazing permits for Tibetan nomads in Qinghai province

Nomads have been living traditional lifestyles for centuries but must now sign over their land to the state.
China revokes grazing permits for Tibetan nomads in Qinghai province A Tibetan sheep herder walks with his herd atop a small hill in a fenced field on the outskirts of Jintan township near the Qinghai Lake in Qinghai province in this file photo.

Chinese authorities are revoking permits for Tibetan nomads in Qinghai province to use their traditional grazing lands, under a 50-year-old agreement that transfers ownership to the state, sources in the area told RFA.

Many Tibetan nomads live almost in the same way that their ancestors centuries ago lived, by following and herding livestock on the Tibetan plateau’s lush grasslands.

The Chinese government agreed 50 years ago to allow local nomads near the town of Kyegudo in Kyegudo in the Yulshul (in Chinese, Yushu) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture to use their grazing land without interference, but now their time has expired.

“They are forcing Tibetans to sign these ownership documents which transfers proprietorship of these lands to the government,” a local source told RFA’s Tibetan Service.

“The nomadic regions in Trindu [in Chinese, Chenduo] county in Kyegudo are where they are revoking usage permits now and confiscating the land under the Grassland Preservation Policy. The real purpose of confiscating the land is to force the Tibetan nomads to relocate to the city,” said the source, who requested anonymity to speak freely.

The government previously revoked permits in other areas of Qinghai on the same premise, according to the source.

RFA reported in August that a Tibetan community leader and his nephew were arrested Qinghai’s Tridu county after advising local Tibetans not to sign away their rights.

The Chinese government has been confiscating many Tibetan grazing lands in this way in recent years, a Tibetan living in exile told RFA on condition of anonymity.

“The confiscation of land in my hometown in Tibet by the Chinese authorities is worse this year than it was last year,” the exile said.

“Land permits that were given before are now revoked and has become invalid. Therefore, this is affecting the livelihoods of the Tibetan nomads,” said the exile.

China wants to extract resources from Tibet and wants the Tibetans out of the way, Pema Gyal, a researcher at Tibet Watch, a UK and India-based organization which promotes the Tibetan human rights.

“The Chinese government has long implemented these kinds of policies to force Tibetans to surrender their ancestral land,” said Pema Gyal.

“One of the main reasons is to exploit Tibet’s natural resources. Another is to relocate all the Tibetans in a smaller space so that the government can more easily control them,” said Pema Gyal. 

Development projects in Tibetan areas have led to frequent standoffs with Tibetans who accuse Chinese firms and local officials of pilfering money, improperly seizing land, and disrupting the lives of local people.

Many result in violent suppression and intense pressure on the local population to comply with the government’s wishes, with protest leaders frequently detained and charged under cover of a Chinese campaign against so-called “underworld criminal gangs” in Tibetan areas.

Reported by Sangyal Kunchok for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Tenzin Dickyi. Written in English by Eugene Whong.


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