Tibetans protest against forced relocations by China in Dege County, Tibet

Tibetans in the Dege County protested on Feb14 and 20, 2024, against the construction of large dam in their area and the order of the relocation of Tibetan villages and Monasteries in the Dege County, Kham region, Eastern Tibet. (Photo: TPI)

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Dharamshala – A large number of Tibetans in Dege County protested against China's construction of the largest hydroelectric power station and the Chinese authorities' order to forcibly resettle them. They asked the authorities not to force them to resettle and not to build the reservoir without the consent of the local Tibetans. The station will not only destroy the Tibetan homes where their ancestors lived, but also damage the local environment.

According to video sources, around 300 Tibetans gathered in front of the Dege county government building on February 14, 2024 to protest against the construction of the largest hydroelectric power plant in their region and the forced displacement of their homes and monasteries. They called on the county authorities to cancel the plan to build the power station and the order to move their homes and monasteries.

The Chinese authorities plan to build a 2,240 megawatt hydropower station on the Drichu River (Jinsha River in Chinese) without the Tibetans' consent to dam construction and resettlement, and have ordered Tibetans and monks from six monasteries and two villages in two townships of Dege County, Kham, eastern Tibet, to resettle in other villages. Therefore, a large number of Tibetans gathered in front of the Dege county government building on February 14, 2024 to protest against this action and to ask the concerned authorities to put an end to it. According to sources, the protesters are from the town of Wentuo (དབོན་ཐོག་གྲོང་རྡལ།) in Dege county, Kham, eastern Tibet.

Videos of the peaceful demonstrations were posted on the Chinese social networks Weibo and Wechat, but were deleted by the Chinese authorities. The demonstrators said "Stop the dam project", "Stop the dam project" and asked the authorities to stop the resettlement order, but Chinese county officials told them they had nothing to say about it and asked them to stop shouting. According to the sources, the authorities have stepped up security measures since the demonstration and are trying to trace the organisers and participants.

Another video was circulated on February 21, 2024, showing Tibetans and monks on their knees, weeping and requesting the Chinese authorities to halt the dam construction plan and order the resettlement of villages and monasteries. Tibetan writer Tsering Woeser wrote, "As a result of the construction of a 13-stage power station on the upper reaches of the Jinsha River, Tibetans who have lived here for generations are being asked to relocate, and their homes and monasteries will be flooded and demolished. The deleted video shows Tibetan monks and villagers on their knees, begging and crying..."

"The Jinsha River, which flows down from the Tibetan plateau, accounts for more than 40% of the Yangtze (Drichu) River's hydroelectric resources and one of the highest levels of hydroelectric enrichment in the world; it is the 'fat meat' of the China Huadian Corporation", she added.

She wrote: "years ago, environmentalists warned that the construction of dams on the Jinsha River, located on the Tibetan plateau, was "hanging over the head of danger" and constituted "the greatest geological risk in China and even in the world". But the Jinsha hydroelectric power station has been built on this river since 2000". In fact, in recent years there have been numerous landslides, river overflows and civil unrest near reservoirs and power stations along the Jinsha River".