Tibetan perspective

Tibetan perspective


Tibetans introduced the concept of wildlife sanctuaries or nature preserves long before the concept appeared in the West. Tibetan taboos related to hunting and killing—and preserving sacred landscape—go back centuries, generally promoted by edicts issued by important lamas, based on Tibetan Buddhist compassion toward all living forms. From this developed the concept of sacred peaks, sacred valleys, and sacred lakes—to be left totally untouched, and only visited on pilgrimage.

As a result of lingering animist beliefs, Tibetans did not mine or dig up the earth, fearing that this might scar the surface and invoke the wrath of the deities thought to be lying within. Mining for gold, silver and lead took place at several sites, and salt was extracted from salt lakes, and that was about it until 1950—when Chinese troops invaded.

Tibetans derive no benefit from Chinese mining or dam-building. In fact, the opposite: Tibetans suffer from these projects. The projects result in nomad removal from traditional grazing land—in covert land grabs, sometimes ironically explained by Chinese authorities as setting up (bogus) nature reserves.

Tibetans have no say in the projects that impact their traditional land. In 2007, at the United Nations, China voted in favour of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This document stipulates that indigenous peoples have the right of consent regarding "any project affecting their lands." But from Tibet to the Sudan, this principle has been flagrantly violated by Chinese commercial interests, particularly Chinese dam-building consortiums.

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