'Die-in' to protest Canadian mine in Tibet
Tibetan supporters wrapped themselves in Tibetan flags and played dead outside a shareholders meeting of a Vancouver mining company Wednesday to press the company to pull out of a planned mine in Tibet.
The "die-in" at the Continental Minerals meeting was in solidarity with Tibetans, who they say can't consent to the massive removal of mineral wealth under their feet, said one of the organizers, Students for a Free Tibet Canada director Tsering Lama.
"They have no right to be in Tibet," Lama said. "As long as Tibetans have no voice, the company has no right to take what is not theirs."
Continental Minerals is working with Hunter Dickinson Inc. to conduct exploratory drilling at the Shethongmon mine site in central Tibet. They plan to build a gold and copper mine there.
It's one of at least seven Canadian mining companies either exploring or mining in Tibet. The largest such mine is the El Dorado property, which produces some $42 million in gold each year.
Continental says it is building schools and roads and training local people to work. It says it's following the Canadian government's lead in recognizing that the Chinese government has a claim to the area.
"We're operating in the People's Republic of China in a Tibetan ethnic area," said Dickson Hall. "We want to employ as many local Tibetans as possible and work to enhance their lives and we think we can do this in form of the development of the mine."
At the Vancouver protest, Lama read out statements and presented letters to the shareholders. Protesters who attempted to film her doing so were led out by company and hotel security.
The three protesters in the "die-in" lay outside the meeting for at least half an hour before they too were escorted off the property.
After the event, Lama said she knew the shareholders were listening, but said she didn't know if they believed her when she said that the company was looting an occupied territory.
"They felt it was not different than B.C. or Mexico, which I thought was incredible because in B.C. people don't get arrested and killed for calling for free speech," said Lama.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Jon Woodward