Recently, following my previous statement on the state of affairs of the herders of my home town, I was contacted by a correspondent from the Agence France-Presse (AFP). In mid-April, he visited Hohhot, and interviewed me about my husband Hada’s prison situation and human rights issues of Southern Mongolia in general. I explained the situation with the herders and how their lands and animals were being plundered. I also offered to put him in touch with Mongolian herders of Darhan-Muumingan Holboot Banner (Banner is equivalent to county) who have been affected by the policies related to the “Ecological Migration” (”sheng tai yi min” in Chinese). I also introduced him to another friend of mine who agreed to serve as his driver and interpreter, someone who would personally escort him to the herders’ community for him to conduct personal interviews and observe the firsthand effects on the Mongols of the Banner where I used to live.
The authorities were eavesdropping on my telephone conversation with the reporter, so they were forewarned about the visit the correspondent was planning to make. They knew the time and date when he was planning to go and who would be escorting him. So when the correspondent set off on his trip to my hometown, somewhere on the road, they were stopped by the police and asked to submit their papers for a ‘routine’ check. The routine check led to a 4-hour delay, during which time, the police had ample opportunity to rush to herders’ place. They advised the locals that a foreign correspondent was coming and they were told under threat of severe punishment to say nothing negative about their living conditions or the situation regarding the forced migrations. So naturally, when the correspondent arrived, he heard nothing negative. In addition, the authorities also threatened the escort and intimidated him such that he too has now severed all contact with me. This is why the Chinese government’s so-called policy of openness accorded to foreign journalists and correspondents is completely without merit, because they can still manipulate facts through intimidation of citizens.