58 years ago: The popular uprising in Tibet (10 March)

China is trying to focus on “development” without human rights for the Tibetans (Press Release)

China’s development policy is immediately connected to uprooting and marginalizing the Tibetans, to destroying their culture, religion, and society. Photo: Tsemdo Thar via Flickr

On occasion of the 58th anniversary of the popular uprising in Tibet (March 10), the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) accuses the Chinese Government of systematically ignoring and violating the human rights of the Tibetans in order to push through with its concept of “development”. “However, what China’s political leadership praises as ‘progress’ and a prerequisite for more ‘stability’ is immediately connected to uprooting and marginalizing the Tibetans, to destroying their culture, religion, and society,” explained Ulrich Delius, the STP’s Asia-expert, in Göttingen on Friday. In a speech at the National Peoples’ Congress this week, China’s Prime Minister Li Keqiang argued that the development of Tibet was the most important prerequisite for stability in the region.

The Prime Minister proudly informed the parliamentarians that the gross domestic product in the Tibet Autonomous Region had risen by 11.5 per cent in 2016, praising the expansion of the infrastructure and transport routes. On Monday, a new terminal had been opened at Nyingchi Mainling airport, the second-largest airport in Tibet. The new terminal, which is located close to the border to India, is supposed to handle around 750,000 passengers by 2020. In addition, new railways and expressways are to provide the basis for an increasing flow of traffic between Tibet and the urban centers in eastern China.

“58 years after the brutal crackdown on the popular uprising in Tibet, the Chinese leaders have still not learned any lessons from the incident. The Tibetans are never asked about their vision of ‘development’ or about how their living conditions could be improved,” Delius criticized. “China’s development efforts were decided on without consulting those who are immediately affected – and for most of them, the working and living conditions are getting even worse.”

Thus, nomadic people are losing their land and their flocks, and mining projects are causing environmental problems and destruction. The construction of new railway lines and airfields is supposed to encourage members of the Chinese Han-majority – which is increasingly dominating Chinese society, administration, and economy – to settle in Tibet. This is beneficial for China’s economy, as it ensures access to cheap raw materials. “China’s concept of development is a recipe for a disaster for Tibet. It does not help to ensure stability, but will lead to more frustration and anger among the Tibetans,” Delius explained.

On March 10, 1959, at least 87,000 Tibetans had lost their lives in the bloody crackdown on the popular uprising against the Chinese rule.

Header Photo: Tsemdo Thar via Flickr