30 Tibetans were detained and in early April after opposing plans to mine Sebtra Zagyen, a sacred mountain in Shakchu (Ch: Shaqu) Town in Diru (Ch: Biru) County, Nagchu (Ch: Naqu) Prefecture. According to reports by the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) the arrests were prompted when local authorities believed that the villagers leaked information about the detention of a village leader who was detained in late February for challenging mining activities.
“We strongly condemn the arrests of Tibetans in Nagchu Diru County and call for their immediate release,” said Dorjee Tseten, Executive Director of Students for a Free Tibet. “Tibetans are routinely punished for their efforts to protect Tibet’s environment from China’s exploitation. We also call on world leaders to stand up against China’s aggressive exploitation of Tibet’s land and resources.”
Beyond destroying sacred Tibetan sites, such mining threatens endangered animals in the area, such as Tsoe (Tibetan antelope), Nah (Blue Sheep), and Gowa (Tibetan gazelle). Local villagers fear that mining would also cause landslides at a nearby sacred mountain, which in turn would block the water supply to the local villagers.
Sebtra Zagyen is part of a sacred mountain range which includes Naglha Zambha, where armed police suppressed an anti-mining protest staged by 4,500 Tibetans on May 24th, 2013. Protesters managed to put a temporary halt to the mining but persecution of those involved in the protest continued long after the protest.