Video footage shows attack on Tibetans protesting arrival of Chinese work team in grasslands

Video footage has emerged of Tibetans being attacked after protesting the intrusion of a Chinese work team into a grassland area of Amdo (Qinghai) to set up a solar panel installation. The footage, received by Radio Free Asia Tibetan service, shows one of the Tibetans being dragged by a truck before being left injured on the ground.

The incident occurred on October 11 when Chinese work crews arrived in Choeje village in the Tsolho (Chinese: Hainan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture’s Chabcha (Chinese: Gonghe) county, according to a source and reported by Radio Free Asia (October 17, Tibetan Land Protesters Attacked, Beaten in Qinghai).

The source cited by Radio Free Asia said: “The Chinese contractors had to take heavy machinery and other vehicles through Tibetan grassland to reach the site, called Choeten Thang, and the local Tibetans demanded that they pay compensation or sign agreements with them. When the Chinese refused, there was a clash.”

In a video of the incident, which can be viewed at (and embedded below): https://goo.gl/LHwuZa, a Tibetan protester who appears to be trying to stop work on the project is struck by a Chinese worker’s pickup truck, and the vehicle is then driven away with the Tibetan still clinging to the front. Later, a Chinese worker approaches the man, now lying apparently unconscious on the ground, and kicks him in the head while other workers shove and beat Tibetans coming to the help of the injured man.

 

A second source told RFA that two Tibetans had been injured in the assault, and that police had taken several Chinese workers into custody. The solar power installation is believed to be temporarily on hold.

China’s strategic objectives in Tibet involve the seizure of land from local Tibetans and massive displacement of Tibetan nomads and herders into urban areas. Across the plateau, Tibetans have responded with peaceful protests and demonstrations, for instance to prevent mining of sacred mountains, as they seek to protect their land and livelihoods, resulting in often violent repercussions.

There has been a cluster of protests and unrest related to protests over land and mining in Chabcha county in Qinghai, the site of this recent protest and assault. The imprisonment of 20 Tibetans in incidents of unrest in Chabcha was documented between 2013-15 in a report by Human Rights Watch.[1] In one of these incidents, in May 2015, four villagers and two village leaders from Chabcha county had opposed the demolition of shacks that had been constructed without official permission.[2] A year later, in June 2016, hundreds of police officers led by a county official and accompanied by heavy machinery descended on a Tibetan community in Tanakma (Chinese: Heimahe) township in Chabcha to tear down shops, restaurants, and private homes, according to sources in the region.[3] An October 2015 assault against another Tibetan town in Chabcha county had left over 900 homeless and living in tents.

Tibetan students in Chabcha were seriously injured and imprisoned in 2012 after they held a peaceful protest in Chabcha town following the publication of a propaganda brochure which attacked the Dalai Lama and described self-immolations in Tibet as “terrorist acts”.[4]

 

Footnotes:

[1] Human Rights Watch, ‘Relentless: Detention and prosecution of Tibetans under China’s stability maintenance’, May 22, 2016, https://www.hrw.org/report/2016/05/22/relentless/detention-and-prosecution-tibetans-under-chinas-stability-maintenance

[2] Phuntsok Yangchen, ‘6 Tibetans arrested for protesting demolition of “illegal” dwellings’, Phayul, May 13, 2015, http://www.phayul.com/news/article.aspx?id=36041.

[3] Radio Free Asia, June 6, 2016, https://www.rfa.org/english/news/tibet/lake-06012016135614.html

[4] International Campaign for Tibet report, ‘Tibetan student detentions after protests in Chabcha, Rebkong’, December 19, 2012, https://www.savetibet.org/tibetan-student-detentions-after-protests-in-chabcha-rebkong/