By Shyamal Sinha
The name Tibet is derived from the Mongolian Thubet, the Chinese Tufan, the Tai Thibet, and the Arabic Tubbat.
Many Tibetans (especially those outside China) consider China’s action to be an invasion of a sovereign country, and the continued Chinese presence in Tibet is deemed an occupation by a foreign power.
Tibetan farmers in Toelung Dechen County near capital city Lhasa in the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) in occupied Tibet are crying foul after Chinese authorities confiscated their lands forcefully, on the pretext of using the land for a mass flower planting drive for the government.
Sources say that the incident took place in March and that authorities have repeatedly ignored and failed to address official complaints from the Tibetan farmers. The same source said that the main stay of the region’s local economy which is farming is severely threatened after the land grab.
Teolung Dechen County located just 10 kms from Lhasa city is inhabited by an estimated 40,000 Tibetans who sow annual crops such as barley and wheat as well as vegetables to sustain their livelihood.
The farmers have been paid just 1000 Yuan for each Mu, a Tibetan measurement scale equivalent to one sixth of an acre, which the source said was significantly below the market rate for the up and coming region that is close to Lhasa city. On an average, a farming household owns about 15 Mus’ of land in that region.
The forceful land grab has, the source said, threatened the sustenance of the Tibetan farmers many of whom are now suffering from stress induced conditions such as anxiety, high blood pressure and cardiac ailments.
Chinese government’s forceful confiscation and low compensation for lands owned by Tibetans in occupied Tibet is not a new phenomenon. Incidents of land grab have sparked peaceful protests in counties such as Kardze, Dzoege, Sershul, among others, where authorities have not only ignored pleas of common Tibetans, but have cracked down on them, injuring and imprisoning many over the years.