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Australians Protest the Mass Arrest of Tibetans protesting a dam on the Drichu River

Australia Tibet Council 2 mins read

The Tibetan Community of Victoria will hold a candleLight vigil this Saturday, 2 March to protest against the mass arrest of over 1,000 Tibetans inside Tibet.

Over the past 10 days, a series of non-violent protests have taken place inside Tibet, in objection to the construction of a Chinese hydropower dam on the Drichu river in Kham, Eastern Tibet. 

The proposed dam would destroy six monasteries in the area, including a monastery that contains centuries-old Tibetan murals.

“Tibetans are distraught that they are going to lose their homes” said Dr Zoe Bedford, Executive Officer, Australia Tibet Council.

"This mass arrest of more then 1,000 Tibetans, including Tibetan monks, for peaceful non-violent protest should be condemned by the international community. Tibetans should have the right to protest against the destruction of their homes and of culturally significant religious sites" Dr Bedford said.

The Drichu river runs through more than 10 Tibetan provinces. Drichu is the Tibetan name for the Jinsha, or Lu river in Chinese, situated on the upper stretches of the Yangtze River.

Since 14 February, Tibetans in Wonpotod township, Derge (Chinese: Dege) County in Kardze (Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan, have been protesting against the planned construction of the 2,240-megawatt Kamtok (Gangtuo) hydropower station.

Mass protests are rare in Tibet due to the occupying Chinese government’s extreme punishment for dissenters.

According to reports, Kamtok hydropower Station, the leading cascade hydropower station built on the upper reaches of the Drichu River, will completely submerge at least six monasteries and two villages in Derge County, Kham. Among them, Wontoe and Yena monasteries, according to Beijing-based Tibetan writer, Tsering Woeser.

Ms Woeser reported that these monasteries belong to the Sakya community of Tibetan Buddhism and have a long history having survived the Cultural Revolution.

The style of the ancient architecture and murals holds precious historical and artistic values, and has recently attracted the attention of international researchers.

Ms Woeser reported that a group of murals from the 14th-15th centuries are considered to be one of the most important Tibetan Buddhist murals discovered locally to date and hold high reference value for the study of Tibetan painting art.

The monasteries and villages will be submerged due to the construction of the hydropower Station, Ms Woeser stated. Researchers have also pointed difficulties the construction of the station poses for the protection, preservation and research of the murals in Wontoe Monastery. 

Australia Tibet Council (ATC) condemns the mass arrest of over 1,000 Tibetans, including the arrests of Tibetan monks for their participation in non-violent protest.

"We call for the immediate release of all Tibetans detained and urge the international community to open its eyes about the extent of oppression in Tibet wherever peaceful protest is met with violent repression" Dr Bedford said on Friday.

The whereabouts of over 100 Tibetans arrested on Thursday 22 February is unknown.

 


About us:

Australia Tibet Council campaigns for the freedom and human rights of Tibetans.


Contact details:

Dr Zoe Bedford
Executive Officer, Australia Tibet Council
Zoe.Bedford@atc.org.au
0408 262 576

Tenzin Lobsang Kansgar
Chairperson, Australia Tibet Council
tenzin.lobsang@atc.org.au
0476 673 682

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