Mongolian herders of
Zaruud Hushuu go on
Sign reads "Protect
herders' rights, return
our grazing land,
compensate the losses".
Red sign of the
reads "Serve the
Since July 30, hundreds of Mongolian herders from Zaruud Hushuu (Za Lu Te Qi in Chinese) of Southern (Inner) Mongolia have gathered at the Hushuu (equivalent to county) capital to go on sit-down strike, some holding signs reading “Protect our herders’ rights, return our grazing land and compensate our losses”, urging the Government to return their grazing land that has been occupied by Chinese mining and railroad companies.
According to a communication from the Mongolian herders community of Gerchuluu Som in Zaruud Hushuu, starting 3 years ago, a number of Chinese mining and railroad companies have occupied the local Mongolian community’s 770 hectare grazing land and opened up coal, gas and other types of mines under the name of “national development projects” without the free, prior and informed consent of the local Mongolian herders. This particular piece of natural grassland used by the local Mongolian herders as their summer grazing camps for generations now has been turned into a mining area where mineral wastes and sewage are dumped without any treatment.
In order to protect their right to access their grazing lands, hundreds of herders took turns visiting the Hushuu Government on an almost daily basis, going on a sit-down strike in front of the Government building, and urging the authorities to return their grazing land and compensate their losses. As expected, the Government has not only failed to take any action to provide remedy but have also threatened the herders and demanded they leave immediately.
On August 17, a construction team from the China Railroad Bureau No.8 arrived at the Mongolian herders’ summer grazing camps and started their construction without any prior consultation with the community. Desperate and frustrated Mongolian herders had no choice but to try to block the construction team from proceeding. A clash erupted between the Chinese occupiers and local Mongolian herders.
Under the name of “protecting national development project from sabotaging” and “keeping the situation under control”, the Hushuu Government sent out a team of fully equipped security personnel to the scene as reinforcement to the construction team of China Railroad Bureau No.8. The clash lasted several hours and 11 Mongolian herders were severely injured, and 4 have been arrested and taken to the Hushuu capital. According to a member of the local Mongolian community who asked not to be identified, the four herders who were arrested were tortured severely during their detention and were punched in their faces repeatedly by the security personnel every time they spoke in Mongolian. At night they were taken to a bar and forced to drink strong alcohol and dance Mongolian dances to entertain the security personnel who threatened to kill them with a knife if they refused to drink and dance and laughed at them and said “you Mongolians are all alcoholics but excellent dancers. Drink this alcohol and dance to entertain us Chinese.”
According to another communication from the community, in addition to the serious physical injuries, at least 5 motorcycles of the herders have been destroyed and a dozen heads of livestock have been confiscated and consumed by the construction team and security personnel. It is reported that similar events have taken place in numerous other neighboring communities as the Chinese Government has been aggressively promoting policies to encourage Chinese companies to appropriate Mongolian herders’ grazing lands under the names of “development”, “national project” and “boosting local economy”.
China has recently declared that the “Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region” has become the energy base of China having the richest supplies of coal, natural gas and oil among all Chinese provinces. According to recent statistics issued by the Chinese authorities, “Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region” is also the richest among all Chinese provinces in precious metal deposits.
“All these mean that more Chinese will come to our ancestral land, kick out the Mongolians, destroy the land and plunder the mineral wealth”, Bayaguut, an ethnic Mongolian cyber dissident, said “this really is a three-dimensional attack on us by the Chinese: they destroyed our grasslands, polluted our air, and now turning up what we have under the ground. What we will be left with is a barren land uninhabitable to human beings.”