Tibet: Anti-Mining Protesters Face Harsh Sentences
Six Tibetan protesters arrested in 2011 have been sentenced to up to 12 years in prison for their participation in demonstrating against the mining operations by the Chinese government in the area. The mining operation has caused environmental degradation and forced over 100 Tibetans to flee their homes, but appeals to the Chinese government to cease operations have been ignored and dealt with harshly. The arrests and unreasonably harsh jail sentences facing the protesters are a flagrant affront to their freedom of speech and are symptomatic of the Chinese government’s dismissal of the voice and opinion of the Tibetan people.
Below is an article published by Phayul.com:
Three years after their arrest in April 2011 reports have emerged now of the sentencing of 6 Tibetans from Phondo town of Phenpo Lhundrup County (TAR) up to 12 years in prison for taking part in an anti mining protests.
Ngawang Yeshi, Pema Gyalpo, Pema Gyaltsen, Chonyi Woser, Kunga and Pema were arrested by Chinese Police after residents of Phondo town took part in protests against a Chinese government’s mining operations in the area.
A Tibetan exile source said he had received information about their sentencing only now. “Ngawang Yeshi, Pema Gyalsten, Chonyi Woser, and Pema Gyalpo had been sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment while Kunga and Pema had received 8 years’ sentence”, the source told Voice of Tibet radio.
The Chinese government had started preparations for its mining project named 'Phondo Chubey Gaktsel' in the area with promises of job creation and generating income for the local Tibetan populace. “However, the mining officials did not fulfill their promises, and instead caused environmental destruction and harm to livestock by blasts and explosions on a large scale,” the source said.
He added that at least a hundred Tibetans were forced to evacuate their homes to make way for the mining.
Local Tibetans of Phondo appealed the government authorities to halt the mining project but to no avail, said the source. The Tibetans then took to the streets in protest against the mining operations which, the source said, had already caused enough damage to the local Tibetans.
Zhang Qingli, then secretary of the Tibet Autonomous Regional (TAR) Committee of the Communist Party (CCP) of China, had said that the Chinese government would explore Tibet's minerals in a “justified and intensive way” in the coming five years.
According to China’s official statistics, the Tibetan plateau has China's largest chromium and copper reserves with most of its rich iron, gold, silver, potassium, oil, and natural gas reserves unexploited.
However, exile Tibetans remain skeptical of China’s claims of keeping its promises while carrying out mining on the Tibetan plateau.