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China to relocate over 73,700 Nomadic Tibetans in Kanlho into permanent homes: state media

August 20, 2008

By Phurbu Thinley
August 18, 2008

Dharamsala, Aug. 18 -- The Chinese government will move more than
73,700 nomadic Tibetans living in Gannan (Tib: Kanlho) "Tibetan
Autonomous Prefecture" ('TAP') into permanent brick houses, under a
government-led program, in the next five years, state media said on
Friday, a controversial practice rights groups say has been marked by
gross abuses.

A nomadic Tibetan community in northwest China's Gansu Province will
soon follow the lead of their kin in Tibet and settle down in
permanent brick houses, under a government-led program, Xinhua news
agency said, citing a Chinese Communist official.

Under the program, more than 73,700 nomadic Tibetans living in Gannan
(Southern Gansu) Prefecture will move from their ancestral homes at
the headwaters of the Yellow River, a degraded pasture area, in the
next five years, head of the headquarters for the resettlement
program, Wang Hongwei, was cited as saying last Monday.

The government of Gannan Prefecture took steps in 2004 to encourage
Tibetan nomads to rear livestock in fenced shelters instead of moving
from place to place to feed their herds, Xinhua report said.

Government funding for the settlement of the nomadic Tibetans in
Gannan would reach 1.3 billion yuan, the report cited Wang.

Kanlho (Gannan) prefecture saw one of the most vigorous Tibetan
unrests against Chinese rule in March this year, forcing communist
authorities to issue written warning notice for protesters who took
part in the series of demonstrations to turn in before midnight of
March 25 or face harsh consequences.

Large military troops and police were deployed to quell series of
anti-China protests that rocked Sangchu (Ch: Xiahe), Luchu (Ch:
Luqu), Machu (Ch: Maqu), Chone (Ch: Zhouni), Tewo (Ch: Diebu)
Counties and in Hezuo city, all under Kanlho (Ch: Gannan) "TAP",
Gansu Province in March.

Also, this month, Chinese authorities reportedly prohibited the
performance of an annual ritual "deer dance" scheduled for Aug. 8 at
Bora monastery, in Sangchu (Xiahe) county in Kanlho TAP.

The government has spent 1.3 billion yuan in the past two years "to
help farmers move into brick houses from wood-and-earth residences
and nomadic herders to settle down", Xinhua's Friday report said.

The government's housing project will see 80 percent of Tibet's
farmers and herders move into permanent houses by 2010, the report
said of the controversial resettlement program engineered by Chinese
Government since 2006.

The report, however, gave no clue whether Tibetans were given a say
in determining a change in their traditional livelihood under the program.

China says nomadic Tibetan herdsmen in Qinghai, Sichuan and Gansu
provinces and the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) are increasingly
relocated into fixed residences to help protect the environment and
boost living standards. It says, in addition to assisting Tibetan
herders in getting loans to build heated shelters, it offers
technical help in shelter building and animal husbandry.

However, reports in the past had highlighted the plight of Tibetan
nomads forced to abandon their traditional lifestyles with many
driven to frustration and despair and unable to cope with the
pressures of earning their livelihood through means alien to their
traditions and upbringing.

Also resettlements often involve the slaughter of animals belonging
to the mostly nomadic herders, relocation to poorly built
accommodation and inability to find work due to lack of skills, Human
Rights Watch had said last year.

Others are forcibly evicted to make room for public works projects,
like dams and roads, the group said in a report.

Between 2006 and 2007 alone, China forced some 250,000 Tibetans,
nearly one-tenth of the population, to resettle to new "socialist
villages" from scattered rural hamlets, ordering them to build new
housing largely at their own expense and without their consent.
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