China’s Western Development Plan has brought numerous spins on the lives of Tibetans. On some occasions, old buildings are brought down, people are displaced to make room for dam plans whereas at times Tibetans are issued with afforestation and construction orders to beautify or reverse earlier mistaken policies. On no occasion, has the voice of the affected people been considered thereby bringing confusion and insecurity to Tibetans.
Yungdung Lodoe, 33, a painter in Chamdo County who arrived in Nepal on 10 December 2004, described to TCHRD about town development activities in his native town.
Yungdung told, “In 2002, the Tibetan head of Sartsa Village was asked to quit the post and a Chinese was appointed as the new village head. Around late March 2002, 30 families living in Dawonang area near Sartsa Township were issued an order to built double storey houses on their fields. The order came as part of the town development plan whereby the towns were to be given a fresh look of development and modernity. The families approached the officials expressing their inability to built homes on their fields as they do not have enough money and also because the field was their source of income. However, the authorities dismissed the appeal and instead advised the families to give their houses for rent to cover the expenses. The authorities said that a new village office would be opened as well in the new area. It was also declared that anyone who does not abide by the order will be deemed as harbouring “separatist” views as both “the land and the sky belong to the Communist Party.”
“The Tibetans were left with no choice than to follow the orders from the authorities and built houses on their fields. Each family had to spend around ten thousand Yuan to built a house. Some other adjacent fields to the construction site were confiscated for future development plans. Four families in particular lost huge fields. They were the Thagatsang, Kartsotsang, Sonam Tentsang and Khigetsang. On completion of construction, the authorities went back on their words and didn’t allow the Tibetans to give their newly built houses for rent.
Yungdung escaped into exile to make a decent living.