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Face off between Tibetans and Chinese security forces over gold mine

May 27, 2009

By Tenzin Tsering
May 26, 2009

Dharamsala, May 26 - Hundreds of Tibetan
villagers are resisting gold mining at Ser Ngol
Lo (Year of gold and silver) in Markham county,
Chamdo prefecture, according to RFA.

Chinese mining and Lumbering firm, Zhongkai Co,
has been reportedly authorized to excavate the
area where peaceful Tibetan protesters are facing
armed Chinese security forces at the site.

The site of the planned gold mine is considered a
sacred mountain by the residents where they have
historically worshiped and conducted rituals in the event of droughts.

The protest that has been going on for several
months has generated tension amidst more than
"300 armed police presence" at the site and “the
security forces have cut off the protesters from
the rest of the village by blocking all phones
and even cell phones.” A resident told RFA that
the soldiers are ready to use force to move ahead
with the mining project and the “Tibetans are
vowing to risk their lives to resist it."

Another local villager said, "Today another four
vehicles with roughly 30 to 40 soldiers in them
went to the protest site and we are not able to reach any of the protesters”.

Pema Thinley, vice chairman of the TAR Communist
Party, was sent to Markham to to convince the
local population, one of the protesters said.

But residents continued their demonstration, and
Pema Thinley was escorted back to Lhasa, the regional capital, on April 5.

Around 500 Tibetans blocked the road leading to
the planned mine site by sleeping on the road day
and night when a contingent of security forces
arrived on the 15th of May, one of the residents
said adding that “The Tibetans declared that they
are ready to die to protect the sacred hill.”

Both the employee of Zhongkai Co and an official
at the Markham county Public Security Bureau
declined to comment on the mine or the protest, RFA said.

Meanwhile in Dharamsala, the five monks involved
in the Labrang protests last year who recently
arrived here gave an interesting account of
exploitation of natural resources in Tibet in general and mining in particular.

Mine search groups consisting of 15 people each
are sent across to various townships for
exploration every month, one of them said. The
monks said they witnessed the movement of the
search groups while they were in hiding for
almost a year after their protests last year.
Sangchu county alone to which they belong has
three mining sites located at Dro gi nang where
mining has been going on for the past ten years
and Serda nang and Walung Sholma where mining has
been operative for the past two years, they added.
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