Demonstrators unfurled a banner and clutched placards outside a building on West Hastings Street to protest a Vancouver-based company’s mining project in Tibet.
Around a dozen people gathered on a stretch of downtown sidewalk today (June 14) for the rally while China Gold International Resources shareholders met inside.
“We’re calling on China Gold International Resources to withdraw their operations in Tibet,” Jigme Duntak, a spokesperson for Students for a Free Tibet Canada, told the Straight. “Currently they’re mining in Tibet without considering the needs of the Tibetan people,” Duntak said.
Last year, China Gold International Resources acquired the Jiama copper poly-metallic mine project, which is in the production stage. Besides copper, the mine deposit near Tibet’s capital, Lhasa, includes gold, silver, lead, zinc, and molybdenum, according to the company.
China Gold International Resources, the sole owner of the Jiama mine project, could not be reached for comment.
Today’s rally was held outside the upscale Terminal City Club in downtown Vancouver, the site of China Gold International Resources’ 2011 annual general meeting.
In an interview with the Straight at the protest, Duntak claimed there are "no democratic rights" in Tibet, which is under Chinese rule. He said Tibetans have little input on how their land is developed.
“If the state wants to put a mining project in their land and it happens to destroy their land, lead to the contamination of their water supply, then that happens, regardless of whether the people want it or not,” he said.
Duntak said no companies “should be able to engage in profiting from Tibet’s natural resources,” until Tibetans “are free to determine whether they want mining operations on their land”.
Established in 1994, Students for a Free Tibet is an international activist group with headquarters in New York and a Canadian wing based in Toronto.
According to the organization’s website, Students for a Free Tibet “works in solidarity with the Tibetan people in their struggle for freedom and independence”.