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Face off between Tibetans and Chinese Security Forces Over Gold Mine.

By Tenzin Tsering
May 26, 2009

Dharamsala, May 26 - Hundreds of Tibetan villagers are resisting gold mining at Ser Ngol Lo (Year of gold and silver) in Markham county, Chamdo prefecture, according to RFA.

Chinese mining and Lumbering firm, Zhongkai Co, has been reportedly authorized to excavate the area where peaceful Tibetan protesters are facing armed Chinese security forces at the site.

The site of the planned gold mine is considered a sacred mountain by the residents where they have historically worshiped and conducted rituals in the event of droughts.

The protest that has been going on for several months has generated tension amidst more than "300 armed police presence" at the site and "the security forces have cut off the protesters from the rest of the village by blocking all phones and even cell phones." A resident told RFA that the soldiers are ready to use force to move ahead with the mining project and the "Tibetans are vowing to risk their lives to resist it."

Another local villager said, "Today another four vehicles with roughly 30 to 40 soldiers in them went to the protest site and we are not able to reach any of the protesters".

Pema Thinley, vice chairman of the TAR Communist Party, was sent to Markham to to convince the local population, one of the protesters said.

But residents continued their demonstration, and Pema Thinley was escorted back to Lhasa, the regional capital, on April 5.

Around 500 Tibetans blocked the road leading to the planned mine site by sleeping on the road day and night when a contingent of security forces arrived on the 15th of May, one of the residents said adding that "The Tibetans declared that they are ready to die to protect the sacred hill."

Both the employee of Zhongkai Co and an official at the Markham county Public Security Bureau declined to comment on the mine or the protest, RFA said.

Meanwhile in Dharamsala, the five monks involved in the Labrang protests last year who recently arrived here gave an interesting account of exploitation of natural resources in Tibet in general and mining in particular.

Mine search groups consisting of 15 people each are sent across to various townships for exploration every month, one of them said. The monks said they witnessed the movement of the search groups while they were in hiding for almost a year after their protests last year. Sangchu county alone to which they belong has three mining sites located at Dro gi nang where mining has been going on for the past ten years and Serda nang and Walung Sholma where mining has been operative for the past two years, they added.

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