Authorities in China’s Qinghai province have warned Tibetans of “serious consequences” if they restart protests against Chinese mining operations after massive demonstrations were violently suppressed, leaving dozens injured, according to sources.
Local Tibetan leaders in Qinghai’s Dzatoe county where the mining activity faced opposition have also been forced to undergo “political education” classes, the sources said, adding that protesters are considering sending a delegation to Beijing to petition authorities for help.
“For now, we have lost, and work on the mines has resumed,” a Tibetan living in Qinghai’s Dzatoe (in Chinese, Zaduo) county told RFA’s Tibetan Service on Thursday.
“Mine workers escorted by police are moving in groups of two from village to village and are collecting stone samples to check for signs of minerals,” he said, adding, “They have warned local Tibetans that they should stay away.”
“Otherwise, we will face serious consequences,” he said.
Meanwhile, Chinese officials have begun a three-month of program of political education for Tibetan county, township, and village leaders at the Dzatoe county center, the source said.
The course began on Aug. 26, he said.
“It is said that after the leaders are trained, a program to enhance ‘political knowledge’ will also be started for the general public,” he said.
“Local Tibetans believe that this is a Chinese ploy to distract them from their protests against the mines, so that mining activity can proceed without obstruction.”
Mining operations in Tibetan regions have led to frequent standoffs with Tibetans who accuse Chinese firms of polluting the environment and disrupting sites of spiritual significance.
Difficult to predict
On Aug. 15-16, hundreds of Tibetan villagers blocked work at three mining sites—Atoe, Dzachen, and Chidza—in Dzatoe county, sparking clashes with Chinese security forces in Atoe and Dzachen that left eight detained and dozens injured.
Work has now resumed at Atoe, while miners are set to start work at Dzachen and developments at Chidza remain unclear.
All but one of those detained in the protests have now been released, RFA’s source said, adding, “Ketsa Sonam, who disappeared early in the protests, is still missing."
Claiming that the Dzatoe mining sites fall within an area described by China’s central government as a protected area, protesters now plan to send a delegation to Beijing to petition authorities for help, RFA’s source said.
“It is difficult to predict the outcome, though,” he said.
Chinese citizens who press complaints in China’s capital against government abuses have increasingly been targeted for punishment by officials, with many reporting being ignored by complaints bureaus, detained in unofficial “black jails,” beaten, and harassed.
Reported by Kunsang Tenzin and Lobsang Choephel for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.