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Tibetans clash with security forces at mining protest PDF Print E-mail
[20 August 2013] Hundreds of Tibetans have taken part in protests against Chinese mining operations at three sites in eastern Tibet. Following clashes with Chinese security forces, at least eight Tibetans have been detained and dozens injured, with 15 reported to be in hospital.

The protests began on 13 August at three mines, Atoe Yultso, Chidza Yultso and Dzachen Yultso in the Gedrong area, Dzatoe (Chinese: Zaduo) county, Jyekundo (Ch: Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture), Kham (now incorporated into Chinas Qinghai province). Reports on the number of Tibetan protestors range from several hundred to several thousand.

The protestors are said to be concerned that the mining operations have not been sanctioned by national authorities and will cause environmental damage. A source quoted by Radio Free Asia said the protestors will only accept a television announcement by Chinese President Xi Jinping as proof that the mines have approval from the government.

Troop deployment in DzatoeOn 16 August, hundreds of Chinese security forces were deployed to disperse the protestors (pictured right). According to a Phayul source, officials warned the protestors to surrender or otherwise be killed, arrested or subjected to torture. When the protestors failed to disperse the police used physical force and tear gas, resulting in dozens of protestors being injured. Reports indicate at least 15 protestors were taken to hospital and eight detained.

There have also been unconfirmed reports of an attempted suicide during the protest. The status of the Tibetan man, who is understood to have stabbed himself, is not known. It has also been reported that one of the protest leaders, Khentsa Soedor, has been missing since the clash with the armed forces. The atmosphere in Gedrong has been described as tense and all communication channels have been blocked.

The Tibetan Plateau is rich in natural resources, including rare metals and minerals, which has resulted in its large-scale exploitation by the Chinese government. The mining operations have brought little or no benefit to the Tibetan people and, with the influx of Chinese migrant workers, led to sustained socio-economic problems. There are also environmental concerns, in particular the pollution of ground water and rivers.

In recent years there have been frequent protests against Chinese mining operations in Tibet. In May 2013, 4,500 Tibetans took part in a demonsration against mining in the Driru region. In November 2012, two Tibetans died after self-immolating in separate protests at a gold mine in Amchok, eastern Tibet. Tsering Dhondup and Kunchok Tsering were said to have been concerned about the adverse effects the mining was having on the local environment and the local population.

Further reading: RFA (15 Aug) I RFA (16 Aug) I Phayul (16 Aug) I Phayul (18 Aug)

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