“We need to survive, we need to eat”: Tibet nomad protest met with violence

Friday, 24 June 2016

Video shows standoff with authorities and injuries following assault

A protest in Chapcha County, Tsolho Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, today (23 June) has been broken up by a police charge (1). The incident occurred when hundreds of nomads challenged the County leader as part of a long-running dispute over the demolition of their houses and businesses last year. Approximately 10 military vehicles filled with security personnel arrived at the open-air location of the confrontation and the security forces charged at the local Tibetans with iron batons. The protestors were carrying white banners with red writing on them, saying in Chinese, '"We Need to Survive, We Need to Eat".

Video and still images obtained from Tibet shows exchanges between the leader and the protesters, the arrival of substantial numbers of security personnel and a protester with a bloodied face following the police charge (2).

In May 2015, properties belonging to the nomadic community were all destroyed under the orders of the government. Authorities claimed the land, on the shores of Qinghai Lake, as government property and it has been developed as a tourist attraction. At the time, locals objected to the destruction with a petition to local authorities and with protests which were broken up by security forces. A number of local Tibetans were arrested and detained (3).

The community has subsequently appealed to the government for permission to reconstruct their houses through legal channels but faced rejection. They were then ordered not to appeal anymore and this order was enforced today by the security forces.

Free Tibet director Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren said:

“Land grabs, destruction of property and environmental exploitation have become increasingly common sources of dispute between Tibetans and local authorities in the last few years. Officials consistently choose to ride roughshod over the interests and desires of the communities they are supposed to serve and their legitimate protests are met with force. Any challenge to authority in Tibet is seen as a political threat and faces a violent response. Despite this, Tibetans continue to stand up for their rights, while their sense of grievance about Chinese rule grows ever deeper.”

Information confirmed and supplied to Free Tibet by Tibet Watch.

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Notes to editors

(1) Location: Trenak (Ch: Shinaihai) Township, Chapcha (Ch: Gonghe) County, Tsolho (Ch: Hainan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai Province

(2) Photograph  of protesters with banner https://www.flickr.com/photos/freetibetorg/27580033790/ and video available at https://www.flickr.com/photos/freetibetorg/with/27580033790/

(3) Free Tibet news story http://freetibet.org/news-media/na/more-detentions-tibet

Free Tibet campaigns for an end to China's occupation of Tibet and for international recognition of Tibetans' right to freedom. We mobilise active support for the Tibetan cause, champion human rights and challenge those whose actions help sustain the occupation. www.freetibet.org

Tibet Watch works to promote the human rights of the Tibetan people through monitoring, research and advocacy.  It is a UK registered charity with an office in London and a field office in Dharamsala, India.  www.tibetwatch.org