Demonstrators in Hong Kong this morning (December 3) called on China Gold International Resources (CGIR) to immediately withdraw from Tibet. The protesters, holding banners and the Tibetan national flag, shouted slogans demanding an end to the exploitation of Tibet’s natural mineral resources. The rally started between MTR Central Station Exit A and Exchange Square.
CGIR started trading on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange earlier this week. The company is reported to have raised HK$2.4 billion ($309 million) to expand and intensify its controversial mining operations in Tibet. Protests have also been staged in Toronto and are planned in Vancouver, where the company is based.
CGIR (formerly Jinshan Inc) has come under fire by Tibet advocacy groups for purchasing the Gyama (Chinese: Jiama) mine operation near Lhasa, Tibet’s capital – a move opposed by Tibetans in the region and abroad.
In 2009, Tibetans in Gyama protested about water contamination and the resettlement of nomads which has resulted from mining operations. Tibetan rights groups are calling on Canadian mining companies and their investors to stay out of occupied Tibet or face increased public pressure.
As the political situation inside Tibet continues to intensify, human rights groups are calling on Hong Kong companies and their investors to steer clear of high-risk business ventures in the country or face increased public and political pressure.
Villagers who were arrested for opposing mining in Gyama remain in prison, awaiting sentence. Two farmers – Sonam Rinchen and Thupten Yeshi – were tortured and sentenced to up to 15 years for demonstrating against mining operations. Sonam Rinchen then died in prison, with part of his body paralyzed, as a result of repeated torture.
Tibetans of Gyama village have been overwhelmed and displaced from their traditional lands by the influx of thousands of Han Chinese, including military police and special forces. Hundreds of nomads have been displaced from the grasslands and moved to social housing, depriving them of their traditional way of life and livelihood. Severe pollution has resulted in Tibetan villagers falling ill and the death of their livestock.
The re-routing of villagers’ fresh water system to mining operations has also caused intense conflict with the authorities. Further, the noise from mining blasts through the night has caused sleep deprivation to villagers, and villagers have been forced to sell their property, including vehicles, to mining companies.