Survivors of an earthquake earlier this year in a Tibetan-populated county in northwest China’s Qinghai say they fear homes and monasteries demolished in the quake will be rebuilt by authorities in Chinese style, destroying their traditional Tibetan appearance, sources said.
The 7.3 magnitude earthquake struck Matoe County (Chinese, Maduo) in Qinghai on May 22, killing at least 20 people and injuring more than 300, local sources told RFA in earlier reports.
Chinese authorities acted quickly to block information flows from the region, preventing independent confirmation of casualty figures.
Local authorities in July began rebuilding affected areas, demolishing houses and monasteries, a Tibetan living in the area said this week at the RFA Tibetan service.
“But they are demolishing not only the structures that were affected by the earthquake, but also those that were not affected,” the RFA source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“And without consulting the wishes of the laity or the monks, they demolish their houses and living quarters and replace them with steel-framed houses.”
“It is very worrying now that the government will soon be able to rebuild the whole area with houses which only have Chinese characteristics,” he said.
Even though severe damage was left by the May earthquake, “there is no reason to just demolish it,” the source said, adding that Chinese authorities promise the new structures will be strong enough to withstand. earthquakes in the future, and that more houses will eventually be built.
“However, all of these new constructions are only in line with the government’s program, and Tibetans fear that there are no more Tibetan features in these newly built houses,” the source said.
Tibetan residents of Matoe have been barred by authorities from releasing reports of damage from the May 22 earthquake, which followed a 6.4 magnitude earthquake earlier the same day in southern Yunnan province. West China) which has left at least three dead and 32 injured, according to official media.
On April 14, 2010, an earthquake in the Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Yushul (Yushu) in Qinghai largely destroyed the city of Kyegudo, displacing thousands of residents and killing nearly 3,000 according to the official count.
Chinese security forces then moved to evict Tibetan families from new homes built for them after occupants said they could not reimburse the government for the additional construction costs.
The Kyegudo authorities’ action in January 2015 followed official demands for payment and saw hundreds of police deployed to government-built housing projects, sources said.
Tibetans living in Tibet and the Tibetan regions of China frequently complain of political, economic and religious discrimination as well as human rights violations, and fear that Beijing may pursue increasingly intensive assimilation policies towards the six million Tibetans.
Reported by Sangyal Kunchok for the Tibetan service of RFA. Translated by Tenzin Dickyi. Written in English by Richard Finney.