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Reuters/Nir Elias
Riot police patrol in Xiahe county in 2009.

Tibetans protesting open-pit mining at a holy mountain were “severely beaten,” activists say

By Zheping Huang

Hundreds of Tibetans in Western China have been protesting for several days to try to close an open pit mine on a sacred mountain.

Chinese police started cracking down on the demonstrations last Friday (June 3), beating and arresting protesters, according to Tibetan activists and foreign news organizations, after local authorities reportedly  claimed that the protests were instigated by “anti-China forces.” Six Tibetan leaders were “severely beaten,” the International Campaign for Tibet reports, and hospitalized.

Protests in Amchock township in Gansu’s Xiahe county began on May 31. Local Tibetans want gold mining stopped on Gong Ngon Lari, a holy mountain that is worshiped by eight local tribes. Tibetans don’t log, hunt, or mine sacred mountains, which are believed to provide protection.

Photos and video footage show local villagers marched from the mining site to the local government building with a banner reading: “Stop Mining at Amchok Gong Ngon Lari!”

The protests ended on Wednesday (June 8). The local government claims the participants were manipulated by “a few evil people in collusion with anti-China forces.” At least seven people were arrested, and later released, the SCMP reported.

For 15 years, a gold mine has been operating on Gong Ngon Lari mountain, despite local Tibetans’ repeated appeals to stop it, Radio Free Asia reported. In 2012, two Tibetan protesters set fire to themselves and died at the gold mine, the International Campaign for Tibet claimed.

Last month, Chinese police cracked down on Tibetans protesting mining activity at a holy mountain in Akhori Township Chuchen County, and 20 Tibetans were beaten up, the Tibet Post International reports. The Chinese government has not commented on the incidents.