DHARAMSHALA, May 7: In another instance of forced removal of Tibetan nomads from their grasslands, Chinese authorities have grabbed land from three Tibetan nomadic villages in eastern Tibet.
According to sources in the region, the land confiscated from the Setong, Dragmar, and Seru villages will be given to thousands of new Chinese migrants.
“The new wave of migration will result in the growth of a Chinese town fueled by construction of two hydroelectricity projects in the region,” US based radio service RFA quoted a source as saying on condition of anonymity.
At a meeting of five nomadic villages of Setong, Dragmar, Seru, Machu, and Goekar convened on April 25 in Gepasumdo, Chinese government officials had told the Tibetan residents that they would have to give up 60 per cent of their land and get rid of 54 percent of their animals within this year.
The Tibetan nomads were given strict orders that their herds will not be allowed to remain on the lands taken by the government and were advised to sell their animals to the slaughterhouse to reduce numbers.
Tibetan villagers at the meeting unanimously refused to accept the orders, following which, Chinese officials in the region forced the Tibetan residents of Setong, Dragmar, and Seru villages to surrender all their land, RFA quoted sources as saying.
Tibet’s nomads, approximately 2.25 million in number, are the original inhabitants of the high-altitude Tibetan Plateau environment where they have grazed their herds of yak, sheep and goats for more than 4,000 years.
In March 1998 the Chinese government announced its new policy to end the nomadic way of life in Tibet, as conceded by the then Tibet Party Secretary Zhang Qingli, to not only promote economic development, but to “counteract the Dalai Lama’s influence. “
According to a Xinhua article published in January 2011, since the policy’s implementation, 1.43 million Tibetan nomads and farmers have been moved into new or fixed settlement homes while another 185,500 families are expected to be moved by 2013.
The United Nations called on China to suspend the forced resettlement of Tibetan nomadic herders in a report presented at the UN Human Rights Council in March earlier this year.
In the report presented by the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter after his visit to Tibet and China, the UN urged the Chinese authorities to take “all appropriate measures to immediately halt non-voluntary resettlement” of nomadic herders from their traditional lands and non-voluntary relocation or rehousing programmes of other rural residents
“The Special Rapporteur is concerned that resettlement in the ―new socialist‖ villages means giving up herding and farming revenues, and consequently losing economic independence,” the report noted. “Food security issues for relocated or rehoused rural residents include loss of land, limited ability to keep livestock, relocation in areas unsuitable to agriculture, and generally a disruption of traditional patterns of livelihood.”