Four Tibetan environmental activists, all members of the locally-founded Tawu Environmental Protection Association, were arrested in mid-February 2012 by the local Public Security Bureau (PSB) officers at Tawu (Ch: Daofu) County in Kandze (Ch: Ganzi) Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province, sources told TCHRD.
Lumbu from Chagya village, Dakpa from Khucha village, Dawa from Yulo village, and an unidentified Tibetan man from Loru village were arrested and questioned by PSB officials.
The Tawu Environmental Protection Association was founded informally in 2011 by local Tibetans hailing from various villages in Tawu County. The group initiated various activities to protect the enviroment by protesting against rampant mining, deforestation, and smuggling of wildlife products. In some cases, local Tibetans had fined Chinese fishermen for fishing in sacred rivers. The association has 50 members representing many villages in Tawu. All the members are well-educated with considerable standing and respect in the local community.
Sources said Tawu County is under heightened security surveillance with four armored vehicles patrolling day and night in the area, according to sources. The People’s Armed Police officers make frequent patrols on foot in Tibetan neighborhoods forcibly dispersing any Tibetan gatherings of more than three or four people.
Tawu County has witnessed frequent protests and self-immolations against the Chinese government in the past years. In the aftermath of the 23 January 2012 shooting of unarmed Tibetan protesters by security forces in Drango County, busloads of Tawu Tibetans left for Drango to help the injured Tibetans. Sources say security officers are now questioning these Tibetans suspecting them of their role in the Drango unrest.
These days, Tawu Tibetans are required to attend many meetings addressed by local officials who give lengthy speeches asking the Tibetans not to participate in Tibetan ‘separatist’ activities and threatening dire consequences if they did, said sources.