Dorjee Tso | Radio Free Asia

Tibetan villagers resisting Chinese orders to move from their ancestral land in a resource-rich county in eastern Tibet have now been forced from their homes for removal to an area farther south, Tibetan sources say.

Around twelve families were loaded onto buses in Chamdo prefecture’s Gonjo county on March 31 and taken away in a convoy, with police cars leading the way, a local source told RFA’s Tibetan Service this week.

“Chinese authorities have so far not explained the reason for the forced relocation,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity. 

The evicted families had held out for months against Chinese orders to move, despite government promises that new housing and land would be found for them in Kongpo prefecture to the south, the source said.

“But the Tibetans could not trust the Chinese government, and they were unwilling to abandon their ancestral land to which they were strongly attached, so they had ignored the Chinese orders to relocate,” she said.

Also speaking to RFA, another local source confirmed the move, adding that Chinese authorities had finally insisted that Tibetans living in the area relocate to Kongpo, and had promised them housing and land in their new location.

“Some Tibetan families in Gonjo had already moved out of the area long ago for business,” the source said, also speaking on condition his name not be used.

“But many other Tibetan families remained in their native place, as they depended on their land for farming. The region is also a source of a variety of fruits,” he said.

The forced relocation is the latest in a series of moves of residents out of Gonjo and into other areas, with several villages forced to move to Kongpo about 10 years ago, sources told RFA in earlier reports.

And in May 2015, Chinese authorities cracked down on villagers protesting road work linked to plans for mining on a sacred mountain in Gonjo, detaining an unknown number and leaving many badly injured, sources said.

Tibetan areas of China have become an important source of minerals needed for China’s economic growth, and mining operations have led to frequent standoffs with Tibetans who accuse Chinese firms of disrupting sites of spiritual significance and polluting the environment as they extract local wealth.

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