Chinese security forces last week broke up a mass protest by Tibetans over the seizure of their land for redevelopment in a zone devastated by an earthquake, Tibetan sources in the region and in exile said.
Many of the protesters were wounded and several detained in the bloody crackdown by up to 500 armed police, the sources said.
The April 2010 earthquake, which struck Yushu county in China’s Qinghai province, destroyed the Tibetan town of Jyekundo, also called Gyegu, killing an estimated 3,000 people there and in surrounding areas.
On April 2, about 300 Tibetans—unhappy at the government takeover of their land—sat down in protest at the town’s main intersection, a local resident said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“Some of their residential plots had been seized by the government,” the man said.
“Many complained that although they were the legitimate owners, their land had either been sold by local officials and departments or had been taken by the government for unjustifiable reasons,” the man said, adding that some fields had been taken over for the building of roads.
“[The owners] had been assured of compensation, but so far they have not been compensated appropriately,” he continued. “They are demanding justice and fair treatment.”
Authorities ordered the protesters to disperse, saying that Chinese premier Wen Jiabao would soon be visiting the area, another resident said.
Protesters beaten, detained
“When the protests continued [on April 3], about 400-500 armed police were brought in at about 9 p.m. and attacked the protesters,” the man said.
“The protesters were beaten, and many were injured. Several of them were detained and taken away,” said a local Tibetan who participated in the protest.
“I later went to the site where the protesters were beaten and dispersed, and saw traces of blood from the beatings by the Chinese security forces,” the man said.
“I did not see any protesters, but the Tibetans are determined to continue their protests until the land is restored to its rightful owners.”
Another resident reported that about 40 Tibetans were detained on the night of April 3, of whom “about a dozen” were released by April 5.
“A group of 60 of us have now met, and we have decided it is very important to appeal peacefully to the county office.”
Reporting on the causes of the protest, the website of the India-based Tibetan government-in-exile pointed to “unfair distribution of accommodations, construction on land owned by the Tibetans, possession of land by the government for building roads, and selling Tibetan land under the excuse of not being able to locate the rightful owners.”
“A local Tibetan businessman named Karma and a nun were detained on suspicion of leading the protests,” the website said.
Reported by Guru Choegyi and Sonam Wangdu for RFA’s Tibetan service. Translations by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.