Ethnic Tibetans protesting what they called illegal mining operations clashed with Chinese security forces in Gedrong Zatoe county, Qinghai province, Aug. 16. Exiled Tibetan activists with contacts in the region told Phayul news service that the protesters have pledged to block the mining operations, citing the threat to local watersheds. Hundreds of troops arrived at the three townships where protesters were mobilzing, and issued an "ultimatum" to call off the campaign or face arrest. Local Tibetan leader Khentsa Soedor reportedly said, "You can kill us but we will not let the mining take place here. It is our responsibility to protect our environment which is a source of water to many other countries." Authorities detained Soedor's wife for interrogation, and his whereabouts are now unknown.
One protester reportedly attempted to kill himself with stabs to the stomach before being detained. Some 14 protesters injured in the clash are also being held incomunicado at a local hospital. The miners claim to have permission from Qinghai provincial authorities, but local Tibetans regard the region as Eastern Tibet and are demanding a voice in oversight. Protesters have pasted copies of a recent speech by President Xi Jinping on environmental protection to the gates of local mines—to have them promptly torn down by the miners. The current situation in Gedrong Zatoe is "tense," with all roads blocked, markets shut down, and mobile phone services blocked. (Phayul, Aug. 18)
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