Protests against an enormous open-air mining project in northern Tibet continued for a third consecutive day on Thursday (June 2). Tibetans marched down the main street in Amchok and raised a banner in front of the local government office this time, following earlier demonstrations at the site of the mine. The mine has previously been the site of two self-immolations by Tibetans.
Videos of the demonstrations, which have been shared widely on Tibetan social media accounts and posted to Youtube, show Tibetans chanting slogans calling for the government to protect the environment and to respect the faith of Tibetan Buddhists, who see Gong-Ngon Lari mountain as a holy place. Demonstrators have also quoted Xi Jinping’s speeches, which voiced support for ecological and environmental protection, in articulating their opposition to the mine.
Another video captured a large convoy of armed police arriving in Amchok township, and one picture showed a number of police in riot gear in the township center. Tensions remain high and there are fears that riot police might use violence to end the demonstrations, as they have during previous environmental protests.
In November 2012, in the same week, two Tibetans set fire to themselves and died near the entrance to the gold mine, which is at Gong-ngon Lari mountain in Amchok township. Tsering Dhondup, 35, set fire to himself on November 20, 2012, and Kunchok Tsering, 18, set fire to himself six days later on November 26.
Protests against mining and to protect Tibet’s fragile high-altitude environment have become increasingly frequent, and dangerous, as the Chinese authorities accelerate large-scale mining in copper, gold, silver, chromium and lithium. In a rare victory, Tibetan demonstrators managed to force a temporary halt in mining at a lithium mining project last month in the Lhagang region of Kham.