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Tibet-Mining-Akhori-Protests-2016Dharamshala — Following up the protest against mining in Akhori Township, Chuchen County, Ngaba, Amdo Tibet, Tibet Post International (TPI) recently received updates from local contacts. Our report on May 25 covered that the local government started construction relating to a mining project at the holy mountain in Akhori Township, and was fiercely protested by the local Tibetans. On May 20, more police were sent and a clash between the police and local Tibetans followed. According to updated recourse, last Tuesday (May 24), the village representative submitted a petition to the Office of the Chinese National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC). The NDRC replied on the other day, stating that it is out of their scope of service. Besides this, the negotiation between the government and the local villagers were pushed to last Saturday, 28th of May. The local villagers further requested the government to stop mining and make compensations to the injured Tibetans who were beaten up by the police. Up till now, no agreement has come up.

Regarding the NDRC's response, a local contact told TPI, 'Konchok Palden and other village representatives submitted an online petition to the Petition Office of the NDRC, titled 'Mining at Akhori Nature Reserve, Local People Encounter Police Violence'. This letter appeals to relevant officials of the central government for an urgent investigation and intervention, to stop the local officials' destruction of the natural environment at the vicinity of the holy mountain. However, the Petition Office made a response, stating that: according to the job function, your petition is out of the scope of NDRC's service. According to the Regulations Concerning Letters of Petition, based on the principle of 'the management of land is classified, and the responsibility is level-to-level; who takes charges, who takes responsibility', your petition should be submitted to the local government, ministry of land and resources administration, or discipline inspection department.'

'However, it is the Development and Reform Commission (DRC) of Aba Prefecture that issued the approval document to the DRC of Chuchen Township regarding the 'Big Cypress Water Power Station Project' in Chuchen County. The document mentions that the condition for the construction project is mostly ready to start, and the requirements for operation have been met; the project duration should be limited to 24 months, and the process of operation, completion, or important incidents should be reported to the DRC of Aba Prefecture. Hence, local people believe that it is the DRC of Aba Prefecture that caused the destruction of the environment and the recent mass incident. Thus, local people think the NDRC should investigate and intervene, rather than shifting the responsibility onto the local government,' the local contact added.

The TPI received updates today reporting that no agreement has been met at the latest negotiation last Saturday (May 28). Tibetans gathered on the same day, requesting again that, firstly, the justice must be done to the injured Tibetans, and the police chief and others should be subjected to further investigation; secondly, relevant authorities should provide legal and reasonable explanations regarding the water power station project; thirdly, the police must stop assaulting or threatening the local people, and compensations must be made to injured individuals.

According to another local contact, 'on the 20th, the government sent more than 30 vehicles to the site to intimidate the villagers. According to a staff from the township, one of the cars was carrying violent weapons. They prepared a large group of police to protect the construction, against the unarmed villagers. Thus, the staff suggested us not to go, or else, serious casualties may happen. So we sent the representatives for the negotiation, but no agreement was made. The negotiation was further pushed to the 28th. We gathered on that day and presented our appeal again. We request that the police chief and other law enforcement officials must be subjected to the justice of law due to their abuse of violence. Thus, the rage of the local people can be pacified; we also request legal and reasonable explanations regarding the water power station project at the Akhori Township. And don't sabotage the national sentiments. We request that those responsible should stop threatening or assaulting villagers immediately, give compensations to the injured individuals, and be held responsible for breaking laws.'

The local contact revealed to TPI that Tibetans are unflinching in this protest, despite their disadvantage confronting the fully armed police. The contact said, 'on the 28th, there was a marriage in the nomadic area. All the Tibetans from different villages gathered there. We all expressed our unflinching determinations in terms of the protest. But we don't have the force to confront the CCP's police and army. They have armed forces, and they have weaponry, so we poor, vulnerable, ordinary people cannot really tackle them. In the eyes of the government officials, Tibetans' natural environment, traditional culture, and customs, none of the above is important. However, our ancestors were residing in this sacred land, thus protecting the natural environment is even more important than our own life. People nowadays – no matter it's the monastery or individuals – if we encounter difficulty, we will pray for the well-being at the holy mountain all over the year. This is the reason that we are protecting the holy mountain. We are unflinching.'

The local contact also strongly criticized the local officials as well as the Chinese government. The contact said, 'the government officials threatened us, stating that, 'anyone who harnesses the process must be sent to the prison and killed without exception. ' They have been behaving like this for long. This is also their job objective. They have never considered the fundamental interests of Tibetans. Instead, they have formidable political interests and individual interests. They lied to us in the disguise of construction and development. We have already outguessed their intention.' The local contact referred to the Law on Regional Ethnic Autonomy and pointed out that, the law has promised people's rights to the land in the ethnic minority area, but they were not implemented. The contact further criticized that, 'these laws were not carried out, and it is just a performance, like a vase on the table – just for looking good. We have outguessed all of these; no matter how glib they [the government] say, we will never believe it. The education of the government officials are largely lagged behind; they are formidable, and have no difference with the bandits.'