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Mongolian Audio and Video Products Confiscated in Inner Mongolia

March 20, 2006
New York


DVDs of Inner Mongolian New Year Concert 2006 are confiscated as well.



Under the pretext of “protecting consumer rights” and “cleaning up the cultural market”, the Cultural Market Management Bureau of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region raided Mongolian audio and video product retail stores and confiscated thousands of Mongolian cassettes, CDs, DVDs, and video tapes in Huhhot City, on March 15, 2006, which is intended to celebrate International Consumer’s Day.

According to a Mongolian store owner from Huhhot City who asked not to be identified, on March 15, the Cultural Market Management Bureau of Huhhot City mobilized hundreds of personnel and dozens of vehicles to raid the city’s audio and video product retail stores and conducted a major sweep operation targeting pirated cassettes, CDs, DVDs, and video tapes. “The prime targets of this movement are the Mongolian small retail stores selling CDs and DVDs of Mongolian music and songs,” the owner revealed to the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center, “anything with Mongolian letters will possibly be labeled a pirated product and subject to confiscation no matter what its contents and whether it is really authentic or pirated.” Ms. Xinna, owner of a Mongolian souvenir store that has been forced to close by the authorities many times, confirmed that the normal business of most Mongolian stores were interrupted by the Cultural Market Management Bureau’s harassment, and thanks to the personal communication between some of the store owners and the Bureau employees prior to the raid, more than 20 Mongolian retail stores closed their doors and managed to escape the Bureau’s surprise sweep and arbitrary fines on March 15. Those who continued normal business were subjected to punishment. An eyewitness interviewed by the SMHRIC over the phone said that thousands of Mongolian CDs, DVDs, and cassettes were confiscated on that day by the Cultural Market Management Bureau, and taken away without any legal procedures. Most of the confiscated items were CDs, DVDs, and cassettes of popular albums from the independent country Mongolia including the songs and concerts of Hurd, a very popular band that has consistently been banned from entering Inner Mongolia over the past two years for provoking Mongolian nationalism. Other targets of confiscation included some other concerts including the Autonomous Region’s official 2006 New Year’s Concert that was co-organized by Mongols from both sides of the border.  

“What the authorities are nervous about is not piracy but separatism,” Ms. Xinna whose husband Hada is currently serving the 10th of a 15 year jail term with a charge of “engaging in separatism” said to the SMHRIC, “ ‘cleaning up piracy’ is just an excuse to crack down on Mongol culture, Mongol identity, of course, and possible Mongol ‘separatism’.” Xinna admitted that piracy is widespread in Inner Mongolia, but said the authorities should claim responsibility for de facto encouraging piracy. She said because of the authorities’ draconian censorship and cumbersome legal procedures over press and publication, no CD or DVD of Mongolian musicians and singers including the famous ones like Lhaazav can afford to be published through the so-called official channel. Therefore, she said, “the only possibility for the Mongols to enjoy their traditional music and song is to circumvent the official channels by resorting to unofficial means in order to meet popular demand.”

For the past several years, under the authorities’ slogan of “development of grassland culture” there emerged hundreds of Chinese small and medium size audio and video product businesses in Huhhot City alone who exclusively deal with products targeting the minority region’s absolute majority, the Chinese. Ironically enough, the cultural products of the Mongols who were originally promised to enjoy “high autonomy” including the right to practice their traditional culture have not only lost their space to the booming Chinese cultural business but also have become the target of a series of crackdowns including the “strike hard”, “cultural market purification”, and “anti-pirate movement” etc. “Basically, our culture, tradition and identity have never been respected by the Chinese here in our own land and the government has zero tolerance for diversity,” another Mongolian store owner who narrowly escaped the raid this time said to the SMHIRC, “what they really want to see is a homogenous Chinese society where everyone speaks Chinese without any accent, everyone thinks Chinese without any dissent and everyone calls himself Chinese without any hesitation.”




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