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Tibetan government denies involvement in Amchok mine protests

June 13, 2016

By Tenzin Dharpo

Phayul, June 8, 2016 - The Prime Minister Lobsang Sangay today condemned the illegal mining activities in Amchok (Sangchu County, Sichuan Province) and in Kham Minyak (Minyak County, Sichuan Province), as well as the violent suppression of peaceful Tibetan protestors at the mining sites. The Tibetan PM also categorically denied any involvement in the protests as alleged by China through a recent circular.

Calling the allegations “unacceptable” and “unfounded”, the Tibetan PM who began his second term this month, said, “The unfounded allegations made by the local Chinese authorities that the Central Tibetan Administration is partly engaged in the anti-mining protests in Tibet is simply unacceptable. These protests have happened because of the occupation of Tibet, repression of the Tibetan people and environmental destruction.”

More than hundred Tibetans from Lhagang, Nangkor, Naglung, Kunmang and Nang nomadic villages in the Yulshok Gargye region in Minyak County on May 4 rose against the illegal Lithium mining that led to the poisoning on the local river and death of many fishes.

Similarly, more than 2000 local Tibetans who consider the sacred mountain Gong-Ngon La Ri sacred have been on peaceful agitation in Amchok Township where the Chinese government is illegally mining gold ore on a massive scale. The protests began on June 1, as the number of protesters is bolstering with the protest now entering its second week. The Chinese authorities have severely beaten two Tibetans, arrested six Tibetans but later released with imposition of tightened restrictions in the area, according to DIIR’s Environment and Development Desk researcher Tempa Gyaltsen.

Speaking to Phayul, he said, “We urge the Chinese government to implement its own constitution where they have made provisions for illegal mining activities as well as consulting the local people (of the mining site) and gauging the ecological consequences of such practices.”

He further mentioned that Tibetans considering the mountains sacred and keeping the area clean for thousands of years have contributed significantly to the area’s ecology. “Western scientists have reported (Anderson and Co. 2005, Salick and Co. 2007) that the locations which are deemed sacred and attached with religious significance have better quality of water, more animals dwelling there and environmentally sounder, which proves that traditional way of Tibetan life is in tuned and in harmony with the nature. Such ways are now under threat due to the reckless Chinese pursuits.”

Out of many self immolations that have taken place in Tibet, two cases; 34 year old Tsering Dhondup who self immolated on Nov. 20, 2012 and 18 year old Kunchok Tsering who self immolated on Nov. 26, 2011 has been directly linked with illegal mining activities where as another Tibetan, Tsultrim Gyatso, aged 44 who self immolated on Dec. 19, 2013 left a note expressing sadness over the mining in the sacred locations, according to Gyaltsen.

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