DHARAMSALA, July 3: Chinese authorities in Dechen County in the traditional Tibetan province of Kham have detained at least nine Tibetans and severely beaten several others, including women on July 1 for protesting against Chinese mining activity at a hill considered sacred by the local Tibetans.
Several Tibetans from Martak village in Yama township in Dechen county were protesting against a Chinese company mining copper at a sacred hill in the locality. An altercation ensued between the Chinese miners and the Tibetan protesters after the miners refused to give into the Tibetans’ demand to stop mining activity at the sacred hill.
Hundreds of Chinese police and paramilitary forces arrived at the site and severely beat the Tibetan protesters and detained at least nine Tibetans. A Tibetan woman who was severely beaten by the police had to be taken to a hospital.
Details of the detained Tibetans and the woman could not be immediately confirmed.
Although the security forces did not fire at the protesters they told the Tibetans that they had the permission to “kill” if necessary.
Although mining activity at the site had been going on for the past 5-6 years, construction of motorable road from the village to the mining site and expansion of mining activity after the company discovered huge deposits of copper at the site about two years ago had infuriated the local Tibetans who made several requests prior to the incident to stop the mining activity.
Chinese mining activity in the Tibetan hills have led to numerous protests by the Tibetans who consider the hills sacred as they believe the hills are the abode of mountain gods who have protected the community and the land from time immemorial.
Chinese authorities have reacted to these protests by beating, arresting and also firing live ammunition at Tibetan protesters.
On 30 May 2009, local Public Security Bureau officers from Yushu County fired live ammunition and tear gas on local Tibetans in Shidag Village in Surmang (Ch: Xiaosumang) Township for protesting illegal mining activities. More than 12 Tibetans were severely beaten and sentenced on false charges of political activities.