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Dams Project to Forcefully Displace Local Inhabitants (TCHRD)

[WTN-L World Tibet Network News. Published by The Canada Tibet Committee. Issue ID: 03/05/12; May 12, 2003.]

Press Release
Contact persons: Tenzin Norgay/Ugyen Tsewang
Phone/Fax: 91 1892 223363/225874

Dharamsala, 12 May 2003: The Chinese government has issued a decree whereby eight thousand Tibetan inhabitants would be forcefully displaced in order to implement a major project in constructing seven Dams in Barkham County, Ngaba Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture ("TAP"), Sichuan Province. As a consequence of constructing the dams, it is feared that many holy Buddhist shrines and other age-old landmarks would submerge.

The areas where the Dams are to be constructed are Drakbar (translit: brag spar), Kyomkyo (kyom kyo), Damba (dam pa), Chuchen county (chu chen), Dzongbud (rdzong 'bud), Tawei (ta lwei), Tsodun (mtso bdun), Kokyab (Khro skyabs).

The main purpose of the project, which is envisaged to be completed in 2006, is to satisfy the enormous need of drinking water and to generate electricity for the mainland Chinese cities. Many Chinese workers have reportedly arrived at Drakbar where the construction is soon to begin.

It is reported that the Tibetan inhabitants are perplexed and anxious in seeing numerous Chinese workers and also at their fate.

In December 2001, Chinese authorities had displaced sixty families in Gonjo County, Chamdo Prefecture to Nyingtri (Kongpo) Prefecture in Tibetan Autonomous Region ("TAR"). The families, mostly farmers, who subsisted from their traditional fields were warned with a fine of 70,000 Yuan for their incompliance with the orders. The displaced families faced enormous hardships in their new surroundings. The families tried to grow crops as per their occupation in the native land but failed to do so. Many had to go to Lhasa city to find employment to feed their family. The government promised to compensate the families but was never given a single dime.

Such projects that are part of the much-vaunted Western Development Programme (WDP), originally launched in 1999, have enormously hindered Tibetan livelihood. Majority of the infrastructure projects in the WDP are designed to transfer resources (water, gas, electricity) from Tibet to eastern regions of China.

The Chinese government's current Tenth Five-Year Plan (2001-2005) for National, Economic and Social Development which encompasses a massive transfer of resources from the Tibetan plateau to eastern China violates the Tibetan people's right to livelihood.

The fact that Tibetans do not have any "active, free and meaningful participation in development and in the fair distribution of benefits resulting therefrom" in the government development projects is a violation of the Tibetan Peoples right to pursue their "economic, social and cultural development". The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) is highly concerned at the plight of the local Tibetan inhabitants who will be affected by the dam project.

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