Residents of a Tibetan township in China’s Gansu province gathered on Sunday to protest a government plan to divert fresh drinking water from a local source to a neighboring area, drawing several vehicles of police who threatened them with arrest, Tibetan sources said.
No information was immediately available regarding detentions or beatings by police in the Nov. 11 protest in Chone (in Chinese, Zhouni) county’s Se Tsang township, which was launched after Chinese authorities arrived in the township to announce the plan, a local source told RFA’s Tibetan Service.
“As soon as the Tibetans began to gather, large numbers of police arrived and issued a warning to the crowd to abide by the government’s decision, and said that anyone opposing the plan would be arrested,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“There have been no confirmed reports of [police] assaults on the protest so far,” the source said.
The proposed diversion scheme, which will send water from a local river from Se Tsang to the Hrin Tsang township in nearby Batse (Lintan) county, has now prompted residents to launch an online petition questioning the reasons for the move, RFA’s source said.
“Have the authorities considered what will happen to those living in our township and to our cattle if our water is diverted to another township and county?” RFA’s source said, quoting from the petition.
“What is the reason for the diversion? Have they finished all the drinking water in their own township and county? Why can’t we have the right to protect the water that belongs to our area?” the petition asks.
“What secrets lie behind this decision that cannot be disclosed?”
Directives by authorities have recently sparked other protests in Chone, with dozens of Tibetans gathering in front of government offices in October to demand compensation promised for livestock culled three years ago under government order, Tibetan sources said in an earlier report.
The protest in Chone’s Nyipa county was launched on Oct. 13, and called on authorities to provide subsidies and other benefits for about 100 families who had reduced their herds to required numbers.
Government efforts to limit the numbers of herd animals kept by Tibetan families have been driven by concerns about the overgrazing of vulnerable grasslands, but the curb on livestock numbers has had an adverse impact on local livelihoods, local sources say.
Reported by Lobe Socktsang for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Dhondup Gonsar. Written in English by Richard Finney.