Tibet : Forceful resettlement of 6000 Tibetan nomads in Gyalthang
Chinese government said Sunday it had helped moved some 6000 Tibetan herders from 1300 nomadic families in Shangri-la (Tib: Gyalthang) County of Deqen (Tib: Dechen) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Yunnan Province into fixed settlement homes under a government-led program, Chinese state-controlled news media reported, a controversial practice rights groups say has been marked by gross abuses. China’s broader aim seems to be remaking Tibet - a region with its own culture, language and religious traditions - in order to have firmer political control over its population. Forceful resettlement of nomadic Tibetans in the so-called ‘Tibet Autonomous Region’ (TAR) and in adjacent ethnic Tibetan areas of Sichuan, Gansu and Qinghai provinces, and now Yunnan, actually began way back in 2000 and have taken place more intensively since 2003. Observers say the massive mass relocation is linked to Beijing's effort, launched in 1999, to develop China's poor, restive west and bind it to the bustling east. Since then, human rights groups say, China has also been forcing nomadic Tibetan herders to settle in towns to clear land for development, while leaving many unable to earn living.To prepare for an influx of millions of tourists in the run-up to the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, the resettlement drive was more vigorously implemented across the Tibetan plateau. Ahead of the Beijing Olympics, Chinese state media reported of increasing relocation of nomadic herdsmen in Qinghai, Sichuan and Gansu provinces and the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) into fixed residences, but said they were done so to help protect the environment and boost their living standards. Between 2006 and 2007 alone, Chinese government relocated some 250,000 Tibetan farmers and herders, nearly one-tenth of the population, to resettle to new "socialist villages" from scattered rural hamlets. Reports show they were often ordered to build new housing largely at their own expense and without their consent.In doing so, these Tibetan nomads have been forced to abandon their traditional lifestyles with many driven to frustration and despair, unable to cope up with the pressures of earning their livelihood through means alien to their traditions and upbringing. Also resettlement often involve the slaughter of animals belonging to the mostly nomadic herders, relocation to poorly built accommodation and inability to find work due to lack of skills, US-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said its June 2007 report.Others are forcibly evicted to make room for public works projects, like dams and roads, the group said in the report.China says its presence in Tibet has resulted in modernization of the predominantly Buddhist Himalayan country. Critics rubbish the claim and say modernisation in Tibet has been crushingly imposed by the Chinese authorities along with draconian measures that restrict freedom of expression, freedom to follow a religion of choice and curtailment of opportunity.