Tibetans Renew Protest Over Land Seized for Highway

Chakmo Tso  |  Radio Free Asia
More than a hundred Tibetans in northwestern China’s Gansu province protested, on April 2, the seizure of farmland for the construction of highways tied to state-linked gold mining and industrial activities they say are polluting the environment, according to sources in the area.
The protest by banner-carrying residents of a town in Gansu’s Sangchu (in Chinese, Xiahe) county came two weeks after other local demonstrations over government seizure of Tibetan land, and quickly drew police to the protest site, sources said.
“On April 2, Tibetans living in Hortsang township in Sangchu county staged a protest against government authorities for seizing Tibetan land for the construction of a highway,” a local resident told RFA’s Tibetan Service.
Though some Tibetan families have been paid “meager amounts” in compensation for their property, “other families were not given anything at all,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Marchers unfurled huge banners written in Chinese demanding fair compensation and calling for “equal rights,” the source said, adding, “Over a hundred Tibetans participated in the protest, so police quickly arrived at the site.”
No further word was immediately available regarding possible detentions or actions taken by police to end the protest.
“For about 20 years, the Chinese government has built mines in Tibetan villages in Sangchu county such as Hortsang, Tsayue, Khagya, and so on,” the source said.
“These Tibetan areas were taken over by the authorities without sufficient compensation being paid to the families living there,” he said.
“And while some places are being used for the expansion of existing roads, others are being used for the construction of new highways.”
Last week, sources told RFA that Chinese mining interests had been digging in the area “for years” despite Tibetan objections over the impact on the environment, and that new factories and other projects are also under construction.
In Hortsang township, residents recently protested over pollution from a nearby cement factory that they say has left wildlife and livestock dead, one source said.
Mining operations in Tibetan-populated regions have led to frequent standoffs between Chinese authorities and Tibetans, who say that Chinese mining firms disrupt sites of spiritual significance and pollute the environment as they extract local wealth.
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