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Tibet: News Tibet Tibetans in Tibet banned from access to their own nature reserve

Tibetans in Tibet banned from access to their own nature reserve

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Tibet kekexili-2017Dharamshala — Earlier this week, despite their pledge to the international community, Chinese officials restricted access to the Hoh Xil nature reserve in northeastern Tibet, near the Tibetan holy mountain Amnye Machen. The reserve, a UNESCO world heritage site, is an important grazing area for Tibetan nomads and pastoralists. It, along with three adjacent reserves, Chang Tang and Altun Shan, represent a significant portion of traditional grazing areas for Tibetans.

For centuries Tibetan nomadic and pastoral peoples have maintained a close and spiritual relationship with the environment. From herding, to collecting plants for medicinal use, Tibetans have a long history of using the land in a responsible and sustainable manner. The Tibetans are one of the last groups of sustainable pastoralists in the world. In an attempt to justify its ban, Chinese officials stated that the Tibetan's pastoral activities pose a significant environmental threat. Furthermore, evidence indicates that China will continue mining operations in the area as well as open the reserve to tourists, but only when accompanied by Chinese security forces.

Poverty and social breakdown have often resulted from forced relocation of Tibetan nomads and pastoralists into more urban areas. In addition, scientific evidence suggests that substantial biodiversity loss and environmental degradation result from the removal of animals from grazing lands. It is also likely to increase the already strained supply of water in major rivers like the Brahmaputra and the Mekong that vitally flow from Tibet to other countries in Asia. Scientists also believe that the preservation of such areas help to mitigate the impacts of climate change.

This move marks yet another tactic employed by Chinese officials in attempts to restrict the grazing abilities of nomadic peoples inside Tibet. By doing so Chinese officials hope to force nomadic peoples into more urban areas in an effort to assimilate them into Chinese culture. Assimilation is one of the main methods of oppression by the Chinese on Tibetans to try and maintain control over the nation.

Hoh Xil, also known as Kekexili, can be translated as Blue Ridge, or Lord of ten thousand mountains. Located in the north eastern part of Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, the area encompasses more than 4, 500,000 hectares. UNESCO officially recognizes the history and tradition of Tibetan nomads and pastoralists and supports their right to use the land

The Chinese Communist regime began their invasion of Tibet in 1949 with total occupation of the country occurring in 1959. Since that time, more than 1.2 million people, 20% of the nation's population of six million, have died as a direct result of China's invasion and occupation. In addition, over 99% of Tibet's six thousand religious monasteries, temples, and shrines, have been looted or decimated resulting in the destruction of hundreds of thousands of sacred Buddhist scriptures.

 


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