United Nations tells China that nomads must not be forced to settle
Free Tibet reported on China’s policy of forced nomadic resettlement to United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier de Schutter, prior to his visit to China in December 2010. In his preliminary findings, released today (1), the Special Rapporteur reiterates Free Tibet’s recommendations to China, including that Tibetan nomads should not be forced to sell their herds and resettle.
Based on figures in Chinese state media we know that, by 2009, at least one million Tibetan nomads had been forced from their land and into purpose built concrete colonies as a result of China’s policy of tuimu huancao (removing animals to grow grass). The nomads are not consulted in the process and are left without the means to make a living and without the training that might allow them to adapt to their new circumstances. China also cancels their land leases leaving them little prospect of ever returning to their land.
Free Tibet Director Stephanie Brigden said:
“China’s policy of forcing Tibetan nomads to leave their herds, their nomadic tent homes and the land they have roamed for centuries is one of the greatest expulsions of a people from their land in history. The numbers of Tibetan nomads being removed from their land and the way in which they are being moved is comparable to the expulsions of Australian Aboriginals and North American Indians by nineteenth century European colonialists.”
The Chinese government claims that they are moving the nomads because nomadic grazing practices damage the Tibetan plateau’s environment. China has, however, ratified the 1992 Convention on Biodiversity which acknowledges the importance of indigenous communities as guarantors and protectors of biodiversity. Recent scientific research confirms that Tibetan nomadic practices maintain biodiversity on the plateau and keep the grasslands strong and healthy. Research also demonstrates how Chinese government mining, damming, logging and agricultural policies over many decades have devastated the ecology of the plateau.
Notes to Editor
Free Tibet is an international campaigning organisation that stands for the right of Tibetans to determine their own future. We campaign for an end to the Chinese occupation of Tibet and for the fundamental human rights of Tibetans to be respected.
For further information and interviews please contact Free Tibet’s Director <a href="http://www.freetibet.org/contact-us">Stephanie Brigden</a>
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