A Focus of Tibetan Ire: Mining
The Washington Post reports on another source of tension between Tibetans and the Han Chinese who are doing business in Tibet:
The Chinese government is on high alert this week, bracing for the possibility of protests as Tibetans mark the 50th anniversary of a failed uprising. Communist Party officials have left nothing to chance, deploying paramilitary troops and plainclothes security, shutting down the Internet and text-messaging services, and stepping up propaganda against the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader they brand a dangerous separatist. Last year at this time, monks in Lhasa, the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region, staged protests that prompted a crackdown. More than 200 people were killed.
But as the government focuses on suppressing political dissent this week, Tibetans are struggling with the economic conditions that help fuel their anger. Mining operations in Tibet and other nearby areas have been booming since the arrival of the Qinghai-Tibet rail line in 2006, bringing wealth to local governments and Chinese mine owners. But they have provided little benefit to local Tibetan farmers and nomads who say the mines scar mountains they consider sacred and kill the yaks and sheep they need in order to make a living. Protests by Tibetans against China’s billion-dollar mining industry are expected to rise as mines closed for the winter begin to reopen as early as next week.
“Last year, eight of my yaks died. They just fell down, foaming at the mouth,” said Gompo Dondrup, a nomad and farmer in Bathang county in western Sichuan province, whose family has lost more than 60 percent of its herd. “At first we didn’t know why. Later, the veterinarians told us it was because of the mine. We protested, but the mine continues to operate. They said they gave compensation to the government, but the government never gave us any.”
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