August 22, 2011

Tibet: Forced From Homes

Chinese authorities seize land in Tibetan areas for government and commercial development.

Below is an article published by Radio Free Asia

Chinese authorities are driving Tibetan villagers from their homes near the city of Shigatse to make way for government housing and a parade ground, according to a Tibetan source.

Two hundred families were set to be displaced in the move which began in April, a caller from Tibet said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The affected village, which sits at the foot of a monastery in Namling county in the Shigatse prefecture of the Tibet Autonomous Region, held roughly 1,000 residents when the forced relocations began, the caller said.

Many have already relocated, with those remaining in the area ordered on Aug. 8 to move “within two days,” the caller said.

“The Tibetans cannot take their grievances to higher authorities at the prefecture level, and thus they are helpless … Many are in tears.”

“Their primary occupation is farming, and the younger members of the Tibetan community also do small jobs for Chinese employers,” he said.

Robbie Barnett, director of the Modern Tibetan Studies Program at Columbia University, cited anecdotal accounts of forced relocations in other Tibetan areas.

“In the area of Kokonor lake in Qinghai province, they have been moving nomads off the land in order to build tourist sites, hotels, and golf courses,” Barnett said.

“Now, new projects are under way, and the nomads are refusing to move.”

Construction

 

Beginning in April, the families in Namling were ordered to move closer to the Tsangpo river, in the same county, to allow construction of a “huge parade ground” and government buildings on the site of their homes, the caller said.

“Each family was assured payment of compensation of about 12,000 yuan (U.S.$1,877), but when [some] actually moved, they were given only 6,000 yuan (U.S.$ 939) and plots of land too small for farming.”

When others expressed resentment at being forced from their ancestral homes, they were told that bulldozers would tear their houses down and that they would be paid nothing at all.

The caller said that he had heard similar reports of “situations in which fields belonging to Tibetan farmers were either taken or sold by force for the construction of dams and other projects.”

“Many of these fields were later used by Chinese farmers for growing vegetables,” he said.