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Tibet: World Bank sponsored massive resettlement
16 June 1999 - Friends of the Earth
Urgent Action Needed Tell the World Bank to Protect the People and Environment of Tibet
The World Bank is about to provide $160 million to the Chinese government for a large-scale agricultural resettlement project. The Western Poverty Reduction Project (WPRP) will resettle nearly 60,000 ethnic Chinese farmers into Dulan County, a historically and culturally distinct Tibetan Autonomous Area. Your help is needed to stop this project, which embodies both the Chinese government's systematic marginalization of the Tibetan people and the World Bank's systematic inability to learn from past mistakes and comply with its own policies.
The WPRP will "voluntarily" resettle 60,000 farmers from the eastern part of China's Qinghai province farther west into Dulan County. The most serious threat to Tibet today is Chinese demographic influx. The Chinese goveent has had direct involvement in many relocation schemes and has indirectly supported spontaneous migration of Chines residents into Tibetan areas. Current strategies for economic development in China rely on and benefit Chinese migrants, and are occurring at a rate that is overwhelming the distinct identity and ancient civilization of Tibetans.
The project also raises serious environmental concerns. The resettlement will double the population in a fragile ecological area and involves rural infrastructure and irrigation development, including construction of a 40-meter dam. The World Bank acknowledges that the land in the resettlement region is poor and irrigation development will require extensive leveling, which may result in serious problems of erosion and water salinization. The Bank also admits that the resettlement may cause excessive pressure on local timber resources.
Despite the severe social and environmental implications of the WPRP, the World Bank assessed the project as a Category B, thus violating its own policy on environmental impact assessment. By miscategorizing the project, the World Bank has avoided presenting the in-depth environmental assessment required of Category A projects. The Bank has also not adequately involved Tibetans and other ethnic minorities in the resettlement area in project design, or taken meaningful action to ensure they will not suffer because of the project. The Bank's classification of the resettlement as voluntary supports the Chinese government's lack of transparency and harsh suppression of dissent in Tibetan areas where nationality issues are involved.
The World Bank has a poor record of transmigration projects and should not support the Western Poverty Reduction Project. Your help is needed to ensure the protection of the Tibetan people from government-sponsored cultural impoverishment in the name of poverty alleviation. Please write or fax your Executive Director at the World Bank and Bank President James Wolfensohn, (contact information follows) urging them to deny World Bank support of this socially and environmentally destructive project.
Mr. James Wolfensohn
For the name and fax number of your Executive Director, or if you have any questions, please contact Sara Zdeb atriends of the Earth-US (tel.: +1-202-783-7400 ext. 220, fax: +1-202-783-0444, email: email@example.com) or the International Campaign for Tibet (tel.: +1-202-785-1515, fax: +1-202-785-4343).
Link to main page on Tibet