Tibetan nomads forced from grazing land, winter camps
September 4, 2017

Radio Free Asia, August 30, 2017 – Authorities in a Tibetan-populated county of northwestern China’s Qinghai province are forcing herders from their traditional grazing grounds, imposing stiff fines and threatening to jail anyone remaining in banned areas past a deadline that has now expired, Tibetan sources say.

No explanation was given for the order to move from the pasturage in Golog prefecture’s Darlag county, or for the expulsion of another nomad group from their nearby winter camps, a source in the region told RFA’s Tibetan Service.

“It is the custom of Tibetan nomads to release their sheep and other livestock into the grassland for summer grazing for about two months and 20 days at the end of June or beginning of July,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“But this year, while they were grazing, the local Chinese authorities ordered them off the land,” the source said.

Authorities set a deadline of Aug. 23 for the nomads to move, and though most were able to leave by the assigned date, “some did not meet the deadline,” the source said.

“So the officials brought in armed police to threaten the nomads who remained, finally forcing them from the land and fining each of them 1,000 yuan [U.S. $152] for failing to obey the order.”

“They were also told that anyone still left behind would be jailed.”

Nowhere to go

Nomads living in the Horkor and Takor villages of Darlag’s Dernang township have meanwhile been ordered to relocate from areas prepared as winter camps, RFA’s source said.

“But they don’t have anywhere else to go, and are now facing continuing harassment from officials.”

“They are very worried about what is going to happen to them,” he said.

Tibetan nomads are now banned from grazing in, and being required to move from, “some of the best pasture land in all of the Tibetan Plateau, especially in the key prefectures of Yulshul and Golog,” Tibet environmental expert Gabriel Lafitte told RFA in an earlier report.

Chinese policy provides that resettled nomads be given vocational training and access to markets, Lafitte said. “[However], in reality, there is very little vocational training, and resettled nomads have few opportunities to enter the modern economy.”

Reported by Kunsang Tenzin for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Richard Finney.