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Int’l outrage grows over China’s brutal ill-treatment of Tibetan dam protesters..


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The United States’ top official on Tibetan issues has on Feb 25 added her voice to the growing outpouring of international outrage on the scale and brutality of China’s ongoing repression of Tibetans in Dege County, Sichuan province, who had petitioned as well as held peaceful protests since Feb 14 against the devastating effects of a massive hydropower dam complex being built on their ancestral land.

More than 1,000 Tibetans have reportedly been arrested and held for interrogation and beating while being put under starvation conditions as the project is set to submerge two villages, home to some 2,000 residents, and destroy six monasteries including one dating from the 13th century with priceless murals.

“China must respect human rights & freedom of expression and include Tibetans in the development & implementation of water and land management policies,” tweeted Uzra Zeya, US under-secretary for civilian security, democracy and human rights and special coordinator for Tibetan Issues, on her X account.

“These centuries-old monasteries are home to hundreds of Tibetan Buddhist monks and contain irreplaceable cultural relics,” she has written. “The US stands with Tibetans in preserving their unique cultural, religious, and linguistic identity.”

The arrests “should be a reminder to the world of how brutal daily life under China’s occupation is for the Tibetan people,” said Tencho Gyatso. President of the Tibet advocacy group International Campaign for Tibet, Washington, DC, in a Feb 26 statement on X.

She has said the protesters had demonstrated “incredible courage” and they needed support from the international community.

Expressions of support have come not only from the top US official on Tibetan issues but also from the international community of Tibet supporters spread over some 42 countries. In a press statement on Feb 24, the more than 170 participants in the 9th International Conference of Tibet Support Groups being held in the Belgian capital Brussels expressed alarm on reports about the ongoing major crackdown in Dege country.

The statement noted that local Tibetans had risked their own security to send out videos showing local residents protesting in front of local government buildings and kneeling in front of Chinese officials in peaceful acts of defiance. Chinese authorities rigorously persecute any such acts of spreading information, it said.

“The world needs to hear the Tibetans’ voices and confront the truth of Chinese misrule in Tibet,” Sikyong Penpa Tsering, the executive head of the Central Tibetan Administration, was quoted as saying in that statement.

Tibetan living in exile have rallied to condemn China’s high-handed treatment of Tibetans in the manner in which it was carrying out the massive hydropower dam project and in the brutal repression of their peaceful protests without giving any heed to their petitions.

In a statement on Feb 27, the Tibetan Parliament in Exile made an urgent call for the immediate release of detainees, immediate halt to the dam construction, and respect for the will and desires of the local people for any projects in the region.

Also in Dharamshala, four local Tibetan NGOs issued a statement of solidarity with the Tibetan community in Dege county while holding a protest rally.

In Geneva, some 45 members of the Tibetan community in Switzerland and Liechtenstein held a peaceful protest before the Palace of Nations on Feb 27 to call for immediate halt to the recent clampdown in Tibet’s Dege county, a day after the 55th session of the UN Human Rights Council began there. Jacques Arnal, a member of the Swiss-Tibetan Friendship Association’s board of directors, was among those who addressed the rally.

The Gangtuo Power Plant is part of a 25-dam system on the Drichu (Chinese: Jingsha) River, ie, the upper stretches of the Yangtze River.

The Tibetan protests began on Feb 14, which was followed by the start of their arrest on Feb 22, and of the Chinese police interrogation and beating of them on Feb 24.

Meanwhile, the arrests are continuing, with even those going to the police station to seek the release of detained relatives and monks being themselves reportedly arrested, said bitterwinter.org Feb 27.

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