Tibetan Protests Erupt Against Dam Construction Threatening Villages and Monasteries

More than 1,000 Arrested as China Cracks Down on Rare Protests in Tibet

The Yebatan hydropower station under construction in Tibet CREDIT: China News Service

In an unprecedented move, Chinese authorities have arrested over 1,000 Tibetans in a sweeping crackdown following rare mass protests that erupted nearly two weeks ago. The protests were sparked by government plans to demolish two villages and six monasteries in order to construct a hydroelectric dam, displacing thousands of Tibetans in the process.

Hundreds of monks and local residents took to the streets to voice their opposition to the demolition plans, resulting in a harsh response from Chinese police. Reports indicate that authorities used tasers, water cannons, and pepper spray to disperse protesters, with at least 100 individuals arrested on Thursday alone.

The crackdown intensified on Friday, with authorities apprehending more than 1,000 Tibetans in Derge, a significant center for Tibetan culture and history, and the proposed site for the dam. Disturbing video clips have emerged showing Chinese police forcibly restraining and knocking down Tibetan Buddhist monks clad in dark red robes.


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Despite efforts by Chinese government censors to suppress information about the protests and subsequent crackdown within China, reports have managed to trickle out. Local residents have had their phones confiscated, and search terms related to the protests have been blocked on Chinese internet search engines.

Public demonstrations of this scale are exceptionally rare in China, where strict government surveillance and censorship make organizing such events extremely challenging and perilous. The protests in Derge mark a significant escalation in dissent and could be the largest demonstrations since the 2022 rallies against Covid restrictions.

Rights groups have condemned Beijing’s actions, describing them as part of a broader pattern of repression in Tibet. Kai Müller, managing director of the International Campaign for Tibet, labeled Beijing’s policies as destructive, emphasizing the regime’s disregard for Tibetan rights and cultural heritage.

Tibetans living outside Derge have mobilized in solidarity, seeking the release of detained relatives and drawing international attention to the issue. Protests have been staged in India’s Dharamsala, where the Dalai Lama resides in exile, as well as at Chinese embassies and consulates in the US and Europe.

The Chinese government’s crackdown in Tibet reflects longstanding concerns about separatist movements and political challenges to Communist Party rule. Beijing’s emphasis on economic development in the region, often at the expense of Tibetan homes and cultural sites, underscores its efforts to maintain stability while quelling dissent.

Input from The Telegraph


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