Local Tibetans, Chinese officials in scuffle over land grab

Villagers ask when compensation will be paid for land seized for a development project.
By Sangyal Kunchok
2021.11.16
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Local Tibetans, Chinese officials in scuffle over land grab Tibetan villagers confront construction workers in Domda village in Qinghai's Yulshul Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Nov. 10, 2021.
Photo from Tibet

Tibetan villagers and Chinese officials clashed this month over the failure of authorities to pay compensation for land taken for a construction project, with at least one scuffle breaking out at the worksite, local sources said.

No injuries were reported in the brawl on Nov. 10 in Domda village in the Yushul (in Chinese, Yushu) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Qinghai, historically a part of northeastern Tibet’s Amdo region, a Tibetan living in the area told RFA this week.

“No one was allowed to record any videos or take photos of the commotion, and no one was hurt,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “However, this land issue has become very critical now, and all construction work has been halted for the time being.”

To promote local development, Chinese officials earlier this year seized a large parcel of land from Domda residents, and though authorities promised to pay compensation to the villagers whose land was taken, no money has yet been paid, the source said.

“So some local Tibetans from the village went to the construction site last week to halt the work until they are compensated for their land,” the source said, adding that villagers were threatened when they pressed their claims, leading to the clash.

China has worked for years to move large numbers of nomadic herders and other Tibetans from their ancestral lands without their consent, said Zamlha Tenpa Gyaltsen, a researcher at the Tibet Policy Institute in the Dharamsala, India.

“The Chinese government tries to justify these policies as efforts to rapidly lift the living standards of rural Tibetans and protect the environment. However, these policies have raised a lot of suspicions,” Gyaltsen said.

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Tensions have risen in the Domda area, a region known for its scenic beauty and good supplies of water and electricity, since work began four years ago to demolish nomad housing and replace it with housing built for Chinese migrants and tourists, sources told RFA in earlier reports.

In August, Chinese police stopped a group of Tibetans traveling on the road to Domda, pushing one who objected to a random search into a river, where he later died, and shooting another who attempted to intervene, sources said.

Formerly an independent nation, Tibet was invaded and incorporated into China by force 70 years ago.

Chinese authorities maintain a tight grip on the region, restricting Tibetans’ political activities and peaceful expression of cultural and religious identity and subjecting Tibetans to persecution, torture, imprisonment and extrajudicial killings.

Translated by Tenzin Dickyi for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Written in English by Richard Finney.

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