Monday, June 11, 2007

China forcing Tibetan nomads to settle in towns

By Associated Press. Found this in the Boston Globe and Pioneer Press (nation & world section) today.
June 10, 2007

BEIJING --China is forcing nomadic Tibetan herders to settle in towns to clear land for development, leaving many unable to earn a living, a human rights group said in a report issued Sunday.

Herders have been forced to slaughter herds of yaks, sheep and goats and Communist officials have paid minimal compensation and failed to protect Tibetans' legal rights, Human Rights Watch said. It said tens of thousands, and possibly hundreds of thousands, of people have been affected.

Chinese authorities explained the changes as a response to overgrazing by Tibetan herds that was causing soil erosion, Human Rights Watch said.

The group appealed to the government to suspend the resettlements until a review can be put in place and to allow Tibetans to return to their land if they were forcibly moved or received no compensation.

"Many Tibetan herders have been required to slaughter most of their livestock and move into newly built housing colonies in or near towns, abandoning their traditional way of life," the report said.

Human Rights Watch said the resettlements in Tibet and in adjacent ethnic Tibetan areas of Sichuan, Gansu and Qinghai provinces are linked to the effort, launched in 1999, to develop China's poor, restive west and bind it to the bustling east.

China's foreign ministry and the local governments of Tibet and the provinces cited did not respond to requests by phone and fax for comment.

The resettlements began in 2000 and have taken place more intensively since 2003, Human Rights Watch said.

"Many Tibetan agricultural communities have had their land confiscated, with minimal compensation, or have been evicted to make way for mining, infrastructure projects or urban development," the report said.
© Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

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