Report highlights repression triggered by environmental protests in Tibet

2nd February 2015

Exploitation and environmental damage trigger opposition across Tibet

Free Tibet’s research partner Tibet Watch, has published a report on the rise in Tibetan resistance to China’s exploitation of the rich Tibetan plateau (see map below). During some environmental protests, Tibetans removed any political element from their demonstrations by flying Chinese flags and referring to China’s president Xi Jinping’s comments on environmental protection, but instead of addressing their grievances, China's authorities have met many protests with significant violence. In Dzatoe County August 2013, a protest was dispersed with beatings, teargas and the firing of shots. In Dechen County July 2014, protesters were severely beaten by police and told by the head of the mining operation that they had “every right” to kill them if they protested again.

Political re-education

After an anti-mining protest in Driru County the authorities imposed a “political re-education” programme which led to an ongoing cycle of protest and repression in which protesters were fired upon, at least one protester tortured to death and others received severe sentences of up to 13 years. A number of Tibetans have committed suicide in response to environmental exploitation and at least two self-immolation protests have taken place near mining sites. The feeling of Tibetans for their land is summed up in the report by a Tibetan interviewee: "Tibetans do not learn the value of the earth through science but through our religion and the way our ancestors protected our land over thousands of years. . . The mining of sacred mountains and holy lakes [is] more than pollution and destruction of the environment. It is a violation of our tradition, religious beliefs and the destruction of our forefathers’ legacy.” Visit Tibet Watch’s website to read this and other reports.

Take Action

One of those arrested in Driru County was Trinley Tsekar, who is part of our Jailed Musicians’ campaign. In Tibet even singing songs to express your pride in your heritage and a call to protect it can lead to lengthy imprisonments. Email China's Minister of Justice demanding the release of Tibet's Jailed Musicians and ensure that all Tibetans are free to express themselves without fear of punishment.

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