Soldiers open fire "indiscriminately" at Tibetan dam protestors

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Tibetan Government in Exile has reported at least 6 identified Tibetan women have sustained serious gunshot wounds for protesting against dam projects near their home. I have copy/pasted the entire story below. For some reason I didn't see the news until this afternoon. Here are some more information and photos about/from the region that might help contextualize the story.

Here is photo of Tawu County (རྟའུ་རྫོང༑) called Daofu Xian administrative seat. The two photos shared here are from Marshall and Cooke's landmark study, Tibet Outside TAR. I recommend reading a description of Tawu County by the same authors. The River Xianshui flows West to East on the South of Tawu county seat, after which it takes a sharp turn South to join Ngyagchu (ཉག་ཆུ༑) or Yalong River, near Nyagchuka (Ch: Yajiang) county. The thousands of protesters reported here are from areas situated between these two county seats: Tawu and Nyagchuka.

Here is an aerial (satellite) shot of the same area from Google Earth. Date photo taken and longtitude/latitude coordinates are visible if you click on the photos.

Here is a photo of Nyagchuka's Tibetan town, on the East side of the river. Again, this photo is from Marshall and Cooke's study, Tibet Outside TAR.

Since I first located the Indus River (Senge Tsangpo) dam on Google Earth, a friend and I have been searching other areas of the Tibetan Plateau for noticeable images. We found a lot of interesting stuff, including many dams and mining sites. And guess what, two of the dams we had marked are from this length of river where the dam is being built! Unfortunately the resolution of much of the region is not clear except for one patch (of image) which was taken nearly two years ago. These two dams are from that patch of image. If any of the readers have paid subscription to Google Earth and can help find other interesting stuff, that'd be much appreciated.

Note that the dams identified here are (most likely) not the one people are protesting. As the images show, these are relatively small run-off-river dams with no reservoirs. It is possible that of these are being submerged by the reservoir against which people are protesting. Notice that much of the surrounding area are forests and agricultural lands.

Also, I wonder why there were so many protestors against one dam. It must be a very big dam, with a huge reservoir that requires inundation of vast areas of land.

Yalong, or Nyagchu, is also the site for a planned 175-meter high dam, which will be connected with a 131 km long water diversion tunnel for the Western Route of the South-North Water Transfer Project.

OK, here's the news article from the Tibetan Government-in-Exile:

6 Tibetans Seriously Wounded in Protests Against China's Hydroelectric Dam Project

Tuesday, 26 May 2009, 10:00 a.m.
Dharamshala: At least 6 Tibetan women have sustained serious gunshot wounds after Chinese security forces opened fire at a group of Tibetans in Tawu County, who were venting their anger against China's forceful relocation of tens of thousands of local Tibetans, sources reported Monday.

The Public Security Bureau officials and People's Armed Police indiscriminately fired at Tibetan residents of Tawu and Nyagchu County in Karze Tibet Autonomous Prefecture, at around 11 a.m. (local time) on Sunday, 24 May.

The sources attributed the incident to China's construction of a major hydroelectric dam between Nyagchu and Tawu County, which is resulting in a large-scale displacement of local Tibetans. The government coerced local residents of Tawu County to sign a document as it begin to plan the construction work in early 2008.

This year the Chinese authorities again reinforce their relocation plan, which was vehemently opposed by the Tibetans who refused to leave their ancestral lands and houses.

Subsequently, on 5 May 2009, the Chinese government dispatched a large number of armed police to the region and destroyed homes of some families, including those of Ati Gyatso Tsang and Chego Pezi Tsang.

Earlier, the authorities convened a meeting and erected a stone pillar in their plan to relocate the residents of Wara Mato town to another place. Expressing strong opposition to the forced relocation policy, the angry residents led by an old woman named Lhamo, who is believed to be aged above 70, refused to move saying they are owner of the land and destroyed the pillar.

Consequently, as residents from Tawu and Nyagchu districts gathered in the region to protest the arrival of large number of troops on the morning of 24 May, the army fired shots leaving six Tibetan women seriously wounded.

Those wounded have been identified as Tsering Lhamo, Rigzin Lhamo, Dolma, Kelsang, Dolkar and Khaying.

But sources could not tell whether those injured are dead or alive as they were forcibly taken away after the firing incident.


Anonymous said...

Tashi la You are right. It must be either a very big or number of dams that are being built in Daofu (Tawu county). I googled in dams on Yalong in Daofu. I found list of these dams-Jingping II,Tongzilin, Gaungdi, Lianghehou. I used google map and found the first two dams near Daofu county. Most of these dams have capacity of more than 4000 MW.

The Tibetan Plateau Blog said...

Hello, thank you for your comment. These are valuable information. I am very pleased that you wrote them here. Could you, may be, share more information, including Google Earth images of the dams with names? Do you know the names of the dams in my post? Thanks again!

The Tibetan Plateau Blog said...

Hello, I looked up the dams you mentioned. Among these dams (which are all planned with the Ertan Project,) the Lianghekou is probably the dam the Tawu people are protesting. It will be in Nyagchuka (Chinese: Yajiang) county of Kandze prefecture. The reservoir of Lianghekou will be huge, so lots of people will be displaced. The dam will be built at the confluence of two important rivers: Qingda and Xianshui rivers to form the mighty Nyagchu or Yalong. The coordinates are roughly 30N, 101E.

Anonymous said...

Your work on the dam project is interesting. Unless a lot has changed since the 1990's, it's unlikely that "tens of thousands" of Tibetans could be displaced, but the valley in this area is prime territory for farming and grazing, so there are plenty of villages. Thanks for considering Cooke and Marshall's work to be "landmark." (Please note the spelling of Marshall.)

Anonymous said...

Take a look at the URL below for a UN project impact document dated July 2008 on a dam built in a location that must be very close to the project that the Tibetans were protesting against in May 2009. The document provides the coordinates 101°07′14″E, Latitude 30°92′46″ near the town of Wari in Tawu county. But according to the document, the water head at the dam will not exceed 20m and it will not store water, and it was due to start operation in June 2008. The document says 17 persons were resettled.

The Tibetan Plateau Blog said...

Hello, thank you for your comments.

Marshall's spelling has been corrected.

While I have not verified the number of protesters, I don't think it would be stretch to assume that tens of thousands will be affected by the Yalong dams considering the number of dams planned on the river.

The UN document seems to be for this dam.