By Lobsang Tenchoe
DHARAMSALA, June 9: Mining in Tibet by the Chinese government not only harms Tibetans in the locality it’s also against the law, Sikyong Lobsang Sangay said at a press conference held yesterday.
Sangay, the recently re-elected Tibetan political leader’s statement follows reports of Tibetan protests against illegal mining activities in Amchok in the traditional Tibetan province of Amdo and Minyak in Kham.
Refuting to China’s accusation of Central Tibetan Administration’s (CTA) involvement in the illegal mining protests by the Tibetans inside Tibet, Sikyong Sangay reasoned that “suppression, torture, discrimination, environmental destruction and unjust treatment under the Communist regime compelled Tibetans inside Tibet to resort to protest”.
A provision in the Chinese constitution on mining states that the government should take due consideration about the merits of mining and the area’s significance to the people inhabiting the area.
“Illegal mining in Tibet by the Chinese government not only harms Tibetans in the locality but it’s also against the law,” Sikyong said and further urged the Chinese Government to implement its own constitution.
Briefing the media in attendance, Mr Tempa Gyaltsen, researcher at Tibet Policy Institute’s Environment and Development Desk said, “Since 2009, more than 30 anti-mining protests took place in Tibet. The Tibetan tradition of protecting sacred mountains has received accolades from renowned environmentalists around the world.”
Amchok in Samchu county of the traditional Tibetan province of Amdo, where illegal mining by the Chinese government has been carried out for the last 12 years, is a hot bed for anti-mining protests by Tibetans.
Protesting the illegal mining activities, three Tibetans, Tsultrim Gyatso, aged 44; Tsering Dhondup, aged 34 and Kunchok Tsering, aged 18 have self-immolated at the mining site on December 19, 2013, November 20, 2012 and November 26, 2011 respectively.
As Chinese government owned companies rapidly expanded mining in Amchok’s scared mountain areas, Tibetans numbering about 2000 have been peacefully protesting since May 31, shouting anti-mining slogans.
Chinese government’s response, as usual, was harsh and brutal. On June 4, 2016 the peaceful protesters were suppressed with force; out of the many protesters who were injured, two protesters have reportedly suffered serious injuries.
Six protesters were also arrested but released later with strict instructions.
Separately, hundreds of Tibetans from Lhagang Gargye, in Minyak county of Traditional Tibetan province of Kham on May 4 protested against the illegal Lithium mining, which the Tibetans said has poisoned the local river and killed many fish in the said river.