Tibetan Farmers in Karze Stop Farming in Protest, Authorities Issue Warning

Dharamshala: Tibetan farmers in Karze county in Karze Tibet Autonomous Prefecture (incorporated into China’s Sichuan Province) have launched a civil disobedience campaign in the form of “farming boycott” to express their extreme desperation as their young family members capable of doing farming are put behind bars.

According to Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD), a human rights watchdog based in Dharamshala, since March 2009, at least 28 incidents of protests were reported from the Karze region and more than 60 Tibetans were detained and arrested for their involvement in the peaceful protest demonstrations.

The Central Tibetan Administration based in Dharamshala, India, has appealed to the local Tibetan farmers to resume farming.

Far from addressing the genuine grievances, the local Chinese government has warned that any family that abandons farming would end up getting arrested and their land confiscated. The announcement was made during a meeting of local authorities and local farmers on 17 March.

Moreover, 27-year-old Jampa Dhondup, a monk of Tse-Tsang monastery in Phogyis-nang Tseg-leg village, Lhoe-pa township, Kardze county, was arrested for his alleged role in taking part in the boycott campaign. According to sources, he was picked up by Public Security Bureau (PSB) officials at around 3:00 p.m. (local time) on 19 March.

Sources said there is lack of man power in Tashi Namgyal’s family to undertake farming.

Several members of Jampa Dhondup’s family have been involved in peaceful protest march in the spring 2008 in the Karze region.

Tashi Namgyal, Jampa’s elder brother has been on the run after he participated in a peaceful protest in Sertha county on 17 March 2008 and an arrest warrant was issued against him by PSB.

His elder sister, Lhagha, a nun of Pangri-na nunnery was arrested for participating in peaceful protest march in Karze County on 14 May 2008. Though she was released later on, she has to present herself before county PSB officials every week. A 60 year old mother, a sister and a wife and two small children of his elder brother Tashi Namgyal, are the only family currently at home.

Sources said the farming activities in Phugyi in Karze has been severely disrupted since many of the youth in the area are arrested for participating in protests.

(Inputs from TCHRD)