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JUNE 3, 1999  2:31 PM
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT:
International Campaign for Tibet
John Ackerly or
Bhuchung Tsering (202) 785-1515
Tibet Supporters Protest World Bank Resettlement Project; Poverty Reduction Scheme Opposed by Thousands as International Campaign for Tibet Launches Online Petition
 
WASHINGTON - June 3 - Pressure is mounting for the World Bank to withdraw its support of a controversial poverty reduction scheme in a Tibetan area of Western China. The Western Poverty Reduction Project would be funded by $160 million from the World Bank and the International Development Association; it aims to resettle 57,800 Chinese and Chinese Muslims into Tsonub Tibetan and Mongolian Autonomous Prefecture.

In response, a coalition of Tibet support groups, human rights groups, cultural groups, and researchers have deluged World Bank President James Wolfensohn with faxes, e-mails, calls, and letters expressing disdain for the ill-conceived and environmentally unsound project.

Tibet supporters are also contacting the 24 Executive Directors of the World Bank before their June 24 vote on the project. The International Campaign for Tibet's award-winning website has launched a World Bank Action Center accessible from .

The site offers background on the project and the opportunity to contact the World Bank to protest this project. Media coverage is linked as the debate continues to unfold.

The influx of Chinese on the Tibetan Plateau further carries out China's effort to dilute Tibetan culture by threatening to reduce the Tibetan population of Tulan County from 22% to 14%. Such a reduction could call into question the autonomous standing of Tibetans in the region.

The Dalai Lama, whose Government in Exile called last week for the abandonment of the project, maintains that population transfer is the greatest threat to the survival of Tibetan culture.

"From Indonesia to Brazil, projects funding transmigration of the ethnic majority onto the lands of ethnic minorities are littered with failure. It would be a travesty if the World Bank funded another such project," said John Ackerly, President of the International Campaign for Tibet.

The project has generated considerable controversy within the World Bank, and China is reported to have threatened some form of retaliation if the project is not approved. Both the Financial Times and the New York Times have reported on the controversial nature of the resettlement project.

The International Campaign for Tibet monitors and promotes internationally recognized human rights and democratic freedoms for the people of Tibet. Founded in 1988, ICT is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization incorporated in Washington, D.C.

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