Tibetans object to Chinese reconstruction plans in Jyekundo

Monday, 14 June 2010

Local Tibetans are opposing Chinese government reconstruction plans in Jyekundo (Chinese: Yushu), the Tibetan town nearest to the epicentre of April 14’s devastating earthquake (2). Locals say that new government buildings and schools will oust Tibetans from valuable land, profitable businesses and homes in the centre of Jyekundo, according to human rights monitoring organisation Tibet Watch (3).

Locals report that the only notice of the plans they have seen is on posters written in Chinese – a language that most Tibetans do not understand. Many have had to work out the meaning of the plans for their town by interpreting maps and images on these posters. Free Tibet is concerned that local Tibetans, who make up 97 per cent of the population of Jyekundo, will not be properly consulted by the Chinese administration on reconstruction plans and that their needs are not being properly considered.

Property on the two main streets of Jyekundo is valuable and businesses on this thoroughfare are profitable, benefitting from local and sometimes high volumes of passing trade, for instance during the famous annual horse festival. The Chinese administration apparently plans to move residents and business-owners to property on the outskirts of town. This would have a very negative impact on the livelihoods of those Tibetans who were moved.

Tibetans who are affected by the plans have reportedly been trying regularly to speak to officials to express their concerns. There have also been corroborated reports of a large group of (up to 200) Tibetans who gathered at the gates of the Jyekundo Prefecture Government Building on 1 June hoping to speak with visiting Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping about the plans. They were allegedly not able to meet with the Vice President.

Free Tibet Director Stephanie Brigden (4) commented:

“It is an outrage that in this Tibetan town the only way the Chinese administration is telling people of changes that will have such an adverse impact on their lives is in a language which most Tibetans do not speak, let alone read.

Free Tibet is very concerned that local Tibetans are not being consulted on reconstruction plans in Jyekundo following April’s earthquake. Our fear is that the destruction of this Tibetan town is providing the Chinese regime with an opportunity to impose Chinese town planning principles on an unwilling population. In a town whose population is so overwhelmingly Tibetan it is essential that Tibetans are consulted and that the Tibetan nature of the town is respected in the reconstruction.”

Ends

For further information and interview
Stephanie Brigden, Director, Free Tibet
stephanie@freetibet.org or on +44 7971 479515

Notes to the Editor

(1) Free Tibet stands for the right of Tibetans to determine their own future. We campaign for an end to the Chinese occupation of Tibet and for the fundamental human rights of Tibetans to be respected. Founded in 1987, Free Tibet generates active support through public education about the situation in Tibet. We are independent of all governments and are funded by our members and supporters.

(2) Information that corroborates these reports has also been obtained by Radio Free Asia: http://www.phayul.com/news/article.aspx?id=27444&article=Tibetans+in+quake-hit+Kyegudo+protest+Chinese+government+over+land

(3) Tibet Watch (www.tibetwatch.org ) is a research-based human rights monitoring organisation. Tibet Watch's researchers speak to a range of contacts, collating and corroborating accounts (testimonies and eye-witness accounts) of human rights abuses in Tibet, including torture and arbitrary detention. Tibet Watch staff also collate and corroborate information and, where applicable, testimonies from new Tibetan refugee arrivals in Dharamsala, India. Other information is sourced from official Chinese Government websites, which are monitored by Tibet Watch staff.

(4) Stephanie Brigden worked in Jyekundo between 2000 and 2002 and is available for interview.