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Tibet Devastated While the World Looks On: New report provides world with first in-depth study of environmental devastation in Tibet

April 25, 2000

Montreal, April 25, 2000: The environmental damage inflicted on Tibet during 41 years of Chinese rule will finally be revealed to the world when a new report is released by the Tibetan government-in-exile. The report, entitled Tibet 2000: Environment and Development Issues, will be presented to the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development in New York on April 26th and will be followed by press conferences in both New York and New Delhi, India.

The report describes the extensive environmental damage on the Tibetan plateau caused by inappropriate and unsustainable mining, logging, hydroelectric projects, waste disposal, nuclear proliferation, and resettlement projects.

"Tibet's biodiversity has been compared to the Amazon Rainforest", says environment specialist Catherine Moore, "but it is being lost at a phenomenal rate. The Tibetan Plateau provides the headwaters for ten major Asian rivers, which supply freshwater to 47% of humanity. The diversion, damming, and degradation of these waters has far-reaching consequences. Changes in its hydrology and vegetation cover will inevitably echo through weather patterns worldwide. Canada and the world should pressure the Chinese government to ensure the protection of Tibet's unique and fragile environment."

Until now, the environmental devastation caused by the Chinese government's economic activities has been largely hidden from environmentalists, academics, the public, and even the Tibetan government-in-exile. The report reaffirms fears that the Chinese government is mining dangerously, using Tibet as a nuclear dumping field and converting enormous stretches of the grasslands which are essential to nomads into settlements for migrants.

"Not only does this constitute a grave violation of Tibetans' environmental rights", says Canada Tibet Committee President Thubten Samdup, "but it reinforces other measures taken by the Chinese to ensure that Tibetan culture is radically transformed and assimilated. Canada's continued partnership with China should be contingent on measures taken to ensure the protection of Tibet's ecology and people."

For interviews in Montreal, please contact Environment Specialist Catherine Moore at (514-848-2050) and/or Canada Tibet Committee President Thubten Samdup (514-857-6770).

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