|June 1, 2011|
Despite the heavy presence of riot police and paramilitary forces in Hohhot, capital city of Southern (Inner) Mongolia, on May 31, 2011 (Tuesday) hundreds of Mongolian students and residents marched on streets near No.18 High School heading toward City Hall. The protesters were blocked by paramilitary forces and a standoff ensued for nearly two hours before the marchers were dispersed.
“It was very noisy out there when I was talking to my friend who was at the scene near No.18 High School,” a Mongolian student of the Inner Mongolia University told SMHRIC over the phone, “my friend told me that students are chanting slogans loudly, holding banners and beating drums also.”
In a telephone interview with SMHRIC, a teacher from the Hohhot Nationality University explained how the protesters organized themselves: “They came to nearby grocery stores and restaurants as customers and waited until 9:00AM, the scheduled protest time on May 31, 2011 in Hohhot,” “once the planned protest time came, they suddenly poured on to the streets forming a large crowd.”
According to communications through confidential channels, Mongolian students were prepared to join the protests at a moment’s notice at any time in Hohhot and elsewhere. Social media especially text messaging played a critical role in organizing protesters.
In Shiliin-Gol League where the first protest erupted from the killing of a Mongolian herder by a Chinese truck driver, the authorities began the first witch-hunts on the campuses of Mongolian schools. Students who sent out more than 4 text messages asking about joining the protesters were summoned to the Public Security Bureau and questioned.
Echoing the protests taking place in other areas, several hundred Mongolian students took to the streets in the capital city of Zalaid Banner, Tongliao City. They demanded Chinese authorities respect the Mongolian people’s legal rights. The protest was quickly dispersed.
Local radio and TV stations in all areas reiterated that the government will increase its subsidy to herders, as well as regulate its mining and development policy.
QQ instant messenger discussion is still under tight control. A student who sent out a message to a QQ discussion group was immediately picked up by police in Hohhot City.
“The direct cause of this protest is the killing of Mr. Mergen, a herder of Right Ujumchin Banner,” a Mongolian professor in Beijing who asked not to be identified commented on the root cause of the continuing protests over the phone to SMHRIC, “but the true cause of the conflict lies in a deep rooted ethnic problem in the region.”
Security around the campus of Inner Mongolia Normal University (05/31/2011):