Tibetan Farmers on strike demand the release of detained in protests
Farmers are vowing not to cultivate their fields to demand the release of relatives and friends detained in earlier protests.Eight villages in the Ngaba prefecture’s Andu township have decided not to till their land this year to express solidarity with the Tibetans who self-immolated and to express their pain over the violent crackdown on Tibetans in Ngaba by Chinese authorities.The move echoes a 2009 farm boycott in neighboring Kardze prefecture, in which Tibetan farmers refused to cultivate their land following a week of other protests and detentions during a tense and politically sensitive month.
Tibetans in Andu are now declaring they will not cultivate their land or gather cordyceps fungus, a valuable local commodity, unless all those members of their community detained by Chinese police are released.
Local officials are putting pressure on the Tibetan farmers and nomads to carry out their regular activities, but the Tibetans are determined not to comply.
On May 1, a group of women from the villages in the township set out for the Ngaba county center to press the authorities to release their husbands and other male family members.However, they were stopped at a place called Kashu before they could reach Ngaba town.
Though seven Tibetans from Andu have already been released from detention, they are still being held at the township center for ‘reeducation’ and have not been allowed to return to their families.Four others from Andu are still in detention.
During a similar protest in 2009, Chinese authorities forced villagers into their fields in a bid to end a farming boycott aimed at protesting Chinese crackdowns in the region.
The Tibetans didn’t cooperate , but later tilled their fields under pressure and with the assistance of government workers and security personnel.
Sichuan’s Ngaba and Kardze prefectures have been the scene of repeated protests in recent months by Tibetans challenging rule by Beijing, including many of the 35 self-immolation protests reported in Tibetan regions since February 2009.