TGIE reports six Tibetan women shot during protest in Tawu
On Tuesday 26 May the Tibetan government in exile reported on its website that 6 Tibetan women had been shot at and wounded by Chinese security forces during a huge protest in Tawu county in Kandze Prefecture in eastern Tibet (Chinese province: Sichuan). The Tibetans had been protesting at the forceful relocation of "tens of thousands" of Tibetans to make way for a major hydroelectric dam in the area, according to the report.
Due to ongoing and severe restrictions on communications into and out of Tibet, Free Tibet has so far not been able to independently confirm the protest and the shootings.
The Tibetan government in exile’s report does not specify whether the tens of thousands of Tibetans being relocated drom Tawu county to make way for the dam are nomads, and whether the relocation referred to is part of a larger Chinese government programme of relocating nomads from their ancestral homelands into permanent brick houses. In light of recent policies that have quickened the rate of resettlement of nomads in order to clear land for major infrastructure projects, Free Tibet believes it is very likely that many of those being relocated from Tawu county are nomads. To date, official Chinese media has reported the relocation, or intention to resettle, 900,000 nomads (15% of the total Tibetan population) away from their ancestral grasslands into permanent brick tenements in Tibetan towns.
Last October Reuters reported the announcement by authorities in Sichuan to resettle 470,000 nomads over a four year period.
As Free Tibet has reported in the past, despite official Chinese claims that nomads are re-settled to ease environmental problems, large and often pollutive infrastructure projects often spring up in areas from which the nomads have been resettled.
To learn more about forced nomadic resettlement in Tibet, click here.
TGIE's report follows:
6 Tibetans Seriously Wounded in Protests Against China's Hydroelectric Dam Project
Tuesday, 26 May 2009, 10:00 a.m.
Dharamshala: At least 6 Tibetan women have sustained serious gunshot wounds after Chinese security forces opened fire at a group of Tibetans in Tawu County, who were venting their anger against China's forceful relocation of tens of thousands of local Tibetans, sources reported Monday.
The Public Security Bureau officials and People's Armed Police indiscriminately fired at Tibetan residents of Tawu and Nyagchu County in Karze Tibet Autonomous Prefecture, at around 11 a.m. (local time) on Sunday, 24 May.
The sources attributed the incident to China's construction of a major hydroelectric dam between Nyagchu and Tawu County, which is resulting in a large-scale displacement of local Tibetans. The government coerced local residents of Tawu County to sign a document as it begin to plan the construction work in early 2008.
This year the Chinese authorities again reinforce their relocation plan, which was vehemently opposed by the Tibetans who refused to leave their ancestral lands and houses.
Subsequently, on 5 May 2009, the Chinese government dispatched a large number of armed police to the region and destroyed homes of some families, including those of Ati Gyatso Tsang and Chego Pezi Tsang.
Earlier, the authorities convened a meeting and erected a stone pillar in their plan to relocate the residents of Wara Mato town to another place. Expressing strong opposition to the forced relocation policy, the angry residents led by an old woman named Lhamo, who is believed to be aged above 70, refused to move saying they are owner of the land and destroyed the pillar.
Consequently, as residents from Tawu and Nyagchu districts gathered in the region to protest the arrival of large number of troops on the morning of 24 May, the army fired shots leaving six Tibetan women seriously wounded.
Those wounded have been identified as Tsering Lhamo, Rigzin Lhamo, Dolma, Kelsang, Dolkar and Khaying.
But sources could not tell whether those injured are dead or alive as they were forcibly taken away after the firing incident.