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Protests in Nyarong district for mining exploitation, Ganzi TAP, Sichuan, China


In Nyarong district, since the Chinese occupation, has been a mine of natural resources. First, lumber has been the chief natural resource exploited; at the end of the 1950's the Chinese established Nyarong as one of the prefecture's four water transport districts and eight forest work enterprises, and began to exploit the area's virgin forests. The Kartse-Nyarong road has facilitated lumber extraction since it was built for that purpose in the 1960's, but the largest volume of lumber is floated down the Nyag Chu River. Certainly everywhere in Tibetan areas where rivers are used to transport logs, a massive amount of wastage occurs and for example in Nyag Chu the  banks and shoals are literally covered with stranded logs.[6] Khams gold-bearing rivers and soils, and road infrastructure have later attracted Chinese gold miners. Along the Nyag Chu River in Nyarong, gold mining activities are in operation in many locations, particularly in the lower two-thirds of the stretch between the Kartse county boundary and Nyarong county town. The miners live in crude camps under the harsh conditions, without the use of machines but just using low-technology methods to extract gold from gravel sieved from the river bed. The mining is done usually in very small groups, the largest is about 16 people and them begins in spring when the rivers thaws, because during winter freezing waters impedes the activity. Gold of course provides an important source of revenue for Kartse TAP. Several large mines were developed during the 1980's and under the 8th Five-Year Plan (1990-1994). Besides gold, Nyarong has a dozen other known mineral deposits. Despite that, county authorities say they regard these as invaluable assets for Nyarong's "future" because such mining attracts increased Chinese immigration to the area, subtracting job and causing damage to the river bed and banks. [6] On April 2010 the International Secretariat of Organisation Mondiale contre la Torture - OMCT was informed by The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD), a member of OMCT SOS-Torture Network, about the arbitrary arrest and detention of Mr. Abo Tashi, a 22-year-old Tibetan monk from Guru Kardze Monastery in Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture (TAP) in Sichuan Province. [2]. According to the information received, on 8 April 2010, Mr. Abo Tashi was arrested by Chinese Public Security Bureau (PSB) officials for participating and taking pictures during a manifestation that he staged with three friends in Nyarong County main market. The four individuals reportedly carried the banned Tibetan national flag, chanted slogans and threw handwritten pamphlets demanding for the quick return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet, the independence for Tibet and the suspension of the mining activities in the Nyarong region. Mr. Abo Tashi’s three friends reportedly managed to flee from the place. [2] The protesters were later joined by over 500 local Tibetan residents in the objection against the Chinese government’s exploitation of rich mineral re-sources in Nyarong region. Criticizing the Chinese government for carrying out mining works in the region, the residents vowed to stop farming their land till the authorities halt the mining activities. A former monk said: ”Nyarong is very rich in gold, valuable stones and many other resources which the Chinese government has been taking away to China,”; “The monk named Apo Tashi, who took pictures of the protest, was taken into custody by the Chinese authorities and his whereabouts remain un-known” [1] The International Secretariat of OMCT was gravely concerned about the safety of Mr. Abo Tashi, particularly because his exact whereabouts wasn’t ascertained. OMCT recalled to the competent Chinese authorities that China is legally bound to effectively ensure the physical and psychological integrity of all persons deprived of liberty in accordance with international human rights law, and in particular, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

Moreover OMCT urged the authorities to conform with China’s international human rights obligations, commitments that were reaffirmed on the occasion of its election as a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council. [2] In fact in the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment is emphasized  “ (…). In order to keep this critical phase as short as possible, international human rights law requires that any person arrested or detained on the suspicion of having committed a crime has to be brought “promptly” before a judge or another officer authorized by law to exercise judicial powers”. [3] [4]  

Basic Data

Name of conflict: Protests in Nyarong district for mining exploitation, Ganzi TAP, Sichuan, China
State or province:Garzê County, Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture , Sichuan Province
Location of conflict:Kandze Monastery (Gompa), Garzê Town, Nyarong district , Kham region
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Mineral processing
Specific commodities:Gold

Project Details and Actors

Project details

Type of populationUnknown
Start of the conflict:08/04/2010

Conflict and Mobilization

IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:Neighbours/citizens/communities
Religious groups
Forms of mobilization:Artistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Street protest/marches
In the manifestation, the four monks took pictures and carried the banned Tibetan national flag, chanted slogans and threw handwritten pam-phlets demanding for the quick return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet, the independence for Tibet and the suspension of the mining activities in the Nyarong region. [2]

Impacts of the project

Environmental ImpactsVisible: Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation
Potential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Soil contamination, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Desertification/Drought, Food insecurity (crop damage), Soil erosion
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Violations of human rights
Potential: Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment


Project StatusUnknown
Conflict outcome / response:Criminalization of activists
Violent targeting of activists
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The monk that organized the environmental and political mobilization, was arbitrarily arrested and detained. That it's an evident symbolic act to not inspire other manifestations by communities.

Sources and Materials

Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

[3]United Nations General Assembly, Report of the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, §88 A/HRC/13/39/Add.5, February 5, 2010

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[4]Human rights watch,“I Saw It with My Own Eyes” Abuses by Chinese Security Forces in Tibet, 2008-2010, July 2010


[5]Rukor-admin, Copper and gold mining in Tibet, Copper and gold mining in Tibet, Octo-ber 11, 2011

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[1], Residents Protest Exploitation of Mineral Resources in Eastern Tibet, 13 April 2010

[2], China: A 22-year-old Tibetan monk ar-rested after staging a protest_Fear for his safety, 15 April 2010.

DUKTHEN KYI and LYNN HOLLAND, The Lonely Resistance: Protesting Chinese Resource Exploitation on the Tibetan Plateau, Carnegie council, MARCH 14, 2016

[6]Tibet environmental watch, Reproduced by permission from Steven D. Marshall and Susette Ternent Cooke, Tibet Outside the TAR: Nyarong Dzong, 1997

Other documents

Kandze Monastery: Garzê (Kandze) Monastery facade.


Meta information

Contributor:Myriam Bartolucci, EJAtlas internship researcher, [email protected]
Last update27/02/2018



Kandze Monastery:

Garzê (Kandze) Monastery facade.