In 2007-08, as many as 7,000 people in Tibet were relocated by the Chinese government from outlying nomadic areas to urban centers. The ostensible reason was to clear range land for development. The Tibetans relocated have had a hard time of it, being forced to slaughter their livestock, and many of these people who are traditionally nomadic are finding it difficult to get employment in the cities. Human Rights Watch, a worldwide organization that spotlights human rights abuses, issued a 79-page report condemning the relocations which it characterized as forcible. The Chinese government disputes this conclusion, insisting that they relocated of their own free will and asserting that the government provided houses for them. Where’s the truth? We don’t know. Given the People’s Republic of China’s poor record regarding human rights in Tibet, a formerly independent country which it seized by military force in 1959, the government’s protestations have not persuaded many in the international community. Human Rights Watch has called for a moratorium on resettlements until China reviews its relocation policies.
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