Five Tibetans Detained in Remote Sog County


2004.10.06
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KATHMANDU—Chinese authorities in the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) have arrested three Tibetans for allegedly inciting a clash with Chinese workers and two others for protesting their detention, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reports.

Two brothers identified as Nyima Tenzen, 24, and Sonam Nyidup, 18, were arrested Sept. 24 outside the main government building in Sog (in Chinese, Suoxian) County, according to sources who asked not to be named. Their father is director of the local weather office.

Local residents said tensions had risen sharply in the area in 2000, when thousands of Chinese gold-miners moved into the area

The two young men were arrested after shouting pro-independence slogans in a bar, sources told RFA’s Tibetan service. They were protesting in frustration at the authorities’ continued refusal to free three other men from the same district in Sog County, a remote area in the northern TAR from which news reports are rare.

Nyima Tenzen and Sonam Nyidup were taken Nagchu Detention Center, the sources said. No further information was available. Several officials contacted by telephone declined to speak publicly about the case.

Three men held earlier

In the earlier incident, also in Sog County, three men identified as Dejor, 40, Tsering Dawa, 40 and Datsok, 33, were taken into custody Sept. 4. ‘They were taken away and put in detention,’ said one man who asked not to be named.

The three men were part of a group of Tibetans—the size of the group was unclear—who in July traveled to and tried to stop a mining project in Yunag Township, also in Sog County, the sources said.

A spokesman for the Nagchu Prefecture Environment Bureau said he was unaware of any arrests but confirmed that a clash had occurred between Chinese laborers building a road and local Tibetans in July.

Tensions rose in 2000

“There was an incident of local Tibetans protesting construction of a 40-mile (65-km) road in the area. The local Tibetans complained that such project erodes the sanctity of sacred hills,” the official said in an interview.

Local residents said tensions had risen sharply in the area in 2000, when thousands of Chinese gold-miners moved into the area—and longtime residents resented the degradation to the environment.

Rights record ‘poor’

A delegation of 10 local Tibetans went to Nagchu Prefecture officials to appeal for the release of the three detained men, source said, but they were rebuffed.

No further information about the three detained men or the incident in July was available, and repeated phone calls to Nagchu Prefecture authorities during business hours went unanswered.

In its 2003 report on human rights around the world, the State Department said the government’s human rights record in Tibet “remained poor, although some positive developments continued.”

“Individuals accused of political activism faced ongoing harassment during the year. There were reports of imprisonment and abuse of some nuns and monks accused of political activism. Security was intensified during sensitive anniversaries and festival days in some areas, while activities viewed as vehicles for political dissent, including celebration of some religious festivals, were suppressed. There were reports of small-scale political protests in a number of Tibetan areas.”

On the Web:

More news from Tibet

Tibetan Information Network

U.S. State Department 2003 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

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