Dharamshala: The Chinese President has reportedly remarked the importance of Tibetan nomadic life in order to “safeguard Chinese territory.” According to Beijing’s mouthpiece Xinhua, Xi Jinping urged Tibetan herders in the Lhuntse County in Central Tibet “to set down roots in the border area.”
Xi’s comments on importance of Tibetan nomadic families, in the light of “safeguarding” borders for “peaceful lives for the millions of families” brashly overlooked Beijing’s abysmal record of forcible mass evictions of Tibetans nomads and herders from their ancestors’ grazing lands. And furthermore, he expediently failed to acknowledge inherent skills and accumulate knowledge on Tibetan nomads and herders that have enabled them to enjoy self-sufficient, sustainable and successful pastoral life for eons.
Tibetan nomads and herders have successfully maintained a sustainable and mobile lifestyle for generation after generation. The pasturelands are made habitable through co-existence of the Tibetan nomads and their herds.
However, China’s introduction of different grassland policies over the years threatened the sustainability of Tibet’s delicate environmental balance and caused a serious concern over the socio economic life of Tibetan nomads.
Under the tag of “Environmental Migration”, 300,000 nomadic herders had been removed from their ancestral land. Over two million Tibetans had been “rehoused” in the Central Tibet, while hundreds of thousands of Tibetan herders in the eastern part of Tibet had been removed in so-called “New Socialist Villages.”
In his report, presented for the 19th session of the UN Human Rights Council, Olivier De Schutter, UN Special Rapporteur on food, called on China to suspend the “non-voluntary” relocation of Tibetan nomads and herders from their “traditional lands.” The Special Rapporteur further urged China to improve employment opportunities, education and health services in “new socialist” villages.
The European Union also expressed concern over the impact of relocations of Tibetan nomads and herders, and questioned whether the Special Rapporteur had been able to engage with the Chinese authorities with respect to the “implementations of these recommendations.”
Xi’s spotlight on Tibetan nomads “for safeguarding territory” revealed the crux of China’s geo-political vested interest driven polices; reminding us how China continues to use Tibetan herders as a tool to meet political interest, rather than listening to environmentalists who state that Tibetan herders’ interests should be addressed.
-Report filed by UN, EU & HR Desk-