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Tibetans forced from their land to make room for road construction

June 8, 2015

Radio Free Asia, June 3, 2015 - Police in northwestern China’s Gansu province moved on Tuesday against a group of Tibetans protesting construction work on disputed land, dispersing the crowd and detaining at least 10, sources said.

The June 2 protest in Luchu (in Chinese, Luqu) county’s Kanlho (Gannan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture followed the arrival of heavy earth-moving equipment in the southeastern part of the county’s main town, a local source told RFA’s Tibetan Service.

“The machines were brought in for the construction of a road on a site owned by Tibetans,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“So the local Tibetans gathered in the area and protested to stop the plan,” he said.

A large contingent of police then swarmed the protest site, scattering the crowd, the source said, adding, “At least ten Tibetans were detained and taken away.”

The contested land, located in the Luchu county town’s Alak village, was undeveloped and had been used since last year by the local Tibetan community for dances and performances, RFA’s source said.

“And though government officials had made earlier attempts to take possession of the land, they had withdrawn their plans when the local Tibetans objected,” he said.

Encroachments by Chinese authorities on Tibetan land are “making Tibetan lives miserable,” RFA’s source said, citing a similar move two years ago in which security forces in Luchu forced a group of Tibetans from land they believed they had legally bought.

At least 15 Tibetans were detained during the May 12, 2013 protest, “and county authorities notified the local community that the land had been repossessed by the government,” he said.

“They did much against the wishes of the local Tibetan community,” he said.

Also in Gansu, Tibetan villagers living in Sangchu (Xiahe) county protested the proposed extension in April 2015 of a Chinese-built highway into nomadic grazing areas, blocking earth-moving  equipment with their bodies and demanding that the work be stopped, sources said in earlier reports.

Reported by Lhuboom for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.

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