Six Tibet villagers jailed for up to 12 years for anti-mine protest

Mining in Gyama Valley, the birth place Tibet's great King, Songtsen Gampo. File photo.
Mining in Gyama Valley, the birth place Tibet’s great King, Songtsen Gampo. File photo.

(, Aug07, 2014) –For protesting against a mining project two years ago which led to 119 homes being forcibly evacuated and a whole town being submerged under water, China has jailed six Tibetans to prison terms ranging from eight to 12 years for alleged separatism in Phenpo Lhundup (Chinese: Lingzhi) County of Lhasa City, Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR). The six were arrested in Apr 2011 during the protest and it was not clear when they were sentenced.

The Chinese government mining operation, located at Gyawodhong Village in Phodhoe Town where two rivers – Phendho Lhachu and Radeng Tsangpo – meet, had begun in 2000, with the forced evacuation of the Tibetan homes having taken place the year before.

Villagers Kunga and Pema were jailed for 12 years each for apparently being the ringleaders of the protests. Villagers Choeying Woeser, Ngawang Yeshe, and Penpa were given slightly less jail terms of 11 years each. A sixth villager, Pema Gyalpo, was jailed for eight years. They were convicted for carrying out splittist activities on the alleged pretext of protecting the environment.

The Tibetans protested after the Chinese not only failed to fulfil their promise to provide jobs at the project to the local Tibetans but also caused large-scale environmental destruction and serious harm to their livestock.

It was not clear what mineral was being mined at the site. China considers mining a pillar industry of TAR, which is home to the largest reserves of a number of minerals coveted by it, besides tourism. It has built, and is still building, huge networks of transport infrastructure to transport the minerals to China in a typically colonial style exploitation and plunder.


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