07/12/2018, 14.27
CHINA
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Tired of mining, Tibetans clash with police in Qinghai

The authorities are stifling protests against mining in Yulshul. Locals complain that the reported road building is actually mining and are afraid that it will pollute and devastate the environment. Protesters also complain about the corruption associated with the operations.

Yulshul (AsiaNews) – Chinese police have launched a violent tear-gas assault on Tibetan villagers in Qinghai’s Yulshul Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture.

According to Radio Free Asia, residents had been protesting for two months against mining activities that had begun without informing the local population.

The region is predominantly Tibetan but the companies carrying out the work, even those based locally, are Chinese.

On 7 July, one hundred Tibetans went to a place called Upper Dechung where mining operations were underway.

Chinese police ordered the crowd to disperse and then charged the demonstrators using tear gas. Many were left unconscious in the attack, whilst others suffered serious injuries.

“Among them was a 70-year-old man called Sogrui Pewang, who had to be rushed to a hospital to be treated for his injuries,” a source said.

Fearing further threats from Chinese police forces in the area, around 50 to 60 local residents left that evening to ask provincial authorities for their help and protection but have not been heard from since.

“Mining has taken place here off and on, and the Chinese told us about a year ago that they were going to build a road through the area, but the local Tibetans began to suspect that the Chinese were digging not to build a road, but a mine,” the source said.

Mining in Upper Dechung is not being carried out by the Chinese government, but by private interests. “Local people suspect corruption is involved in connection with this joint venture,” he added.

Protests of this kind have been going on for several years. In 2015, Tibetans took to the streets against mines in the Tsojang Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. At the time some had already complained about mining-related corruption.

Companies pay to continue to operate with impunity. The authorities turn a bling eye to environmental disasters and ignore Tibetan protests.

The territories are rich in iron, copper, and limestone. For China, raw materials from these areas are essential to support its ambitious manufacturing projects.

However, mining activities cause significant environmental damage: water pollution, loss of pasture land, and the destruction of artistic, sacred and natural sites.

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