Authorities in southwestern China’s Sichuan province are ordering residents of a Tibetan-populated county not to resume their blockade of road construction in the area, issuing their warning two months after police violently cracked down on an earlier protest, according to a local source.
Tibetans living in Akhore town in the Ngaba (in Chinese, Aba) Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture’s Chuchen (Jinchuan) county are objecting to the work because the finished road may be used to support Chinese mining operations on nearby sacred mountains, a Tibetan living in the area told RFA’s Tibetan Service.
“Officials said that the road is intended for a dam project in the area, but workers have explained to the local people that mining is the project’s ultimate object,” RFA’ s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
On May 20, a group of police officers arrived in Akhore and warned residents over loudspeakers of “serious consequences” if they attempted to block government road work in the area, the source said.
“They also imposed restrictions on the activities of local Tibetans,” he said.
Two months before, police had clashed with community members protesting authorities’ failure to respond to their concerns over the work, the source said.
Police “randomly beat up Tibetan protesters, including an old man in his 60s,” during the March 28 protest, the source said.
“They also took away seven Tibetans who were detained for seven to 20 days and then released. Several among them suffered serious injuries.”
Local residents had earlier halted work on the project for almost five years, RFA’s source said.
“However, on March 28 of this year, workers arrived in the area again,” he said.
Tibet has become an important source of minerals needed for China’s economic growth, and Chinese mining operations in Tibetan areas have often led to widespread environmental damage, including the pollution of water sources for livestock and humans and the disruption of sacred sites, experts say.
Reported by Lobe Socktsang for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.