|May 24, 2012|
|Munkhdalai Borjigin fighting for the right to sign documents in Mongolian.|
One indication of the violation of basic human rights of the Southern (Inner) Mongolians in the "Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region" by the Chinese authorities is the denial of the right to sign their names in Mongolian on any formal documents. Yet, as part of the effort to reclaim their national identity and restore their basic human rights through non-violent resistance, Southern Mongolians are fighting to secure this right within China’s existing legal framework.
On May 17, 2012, Munkhdalai Borjigin, a retired Mongolian employee of San Lian Chemistry in the regional capital Hohhot City, received a notice stating that signatures in Mongolian shall be accepted within the entire banking system in the Autonomous Region. The notice also promised to Munkhdalai that an official government document will be issued to enforce the decision shortly.
According to Munkhdalai who was interviewed by the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center (SMHRIC) over the phone, he has been appealing to many departments of the Government on this case in accordance with the relevant Chinese laws. As a result, on May 17, 2012, Tao Jian, Deputy Director of the Autonomous Region Political and Legal Affairs Committee, called a meeting with officials from the Autonomous Region Mongolian Language Committee, Public Security Bureau, and various banking authorities to adopt the decision.
Munkhdalai told SMHRIC how he continued his struggle for reclaiming his right to sign his name in Mongolian on his banking documents despite the fact that all banks consistently refused to accept his signature in Mongolian.
His struggle started on September 27, 2006, when Munkhdalai tried to withdraw money from his account with Xian Fu Street Branch of Chinese Agricultural Bank. He was told by a bank employee that signatures in Mongolian are "legally unacceptable" and the withdrawal was rejected. Munkhdalai appealed to the Hohhot City Nationality Affairs Committee and he was allowed to withdraw money from the branch following the bank employee’s apology.
On June 25, 2010, Munkhdalai signed his name in Mongolian in all required places when he replaced his banking documents at the Jin Qiao Branch of Chinese Agricultural Bank. The bank authorities asked him to sign his name in Chinese. He refused. The bank suspended his account. He filed a lawsuit against the bank and the case was heard on July 28, 2010 by the Hohhot City Saihan District Court. Munkhdalai refused to speak in Chinese and requested the court proceeding to be in Mongolian. With strong legal arguments, Munkhdalai won the case. The bank paid compensation to him and promised to accept signatures in Mongolian in the future.
On November 1, 2010, Munkhdalai appealed to the Hohhot City Hui Nationality District Disciplinary Committee on the violation of the right to have signatures in Mongolian. The Party Secretary of the Committee not only refused to listen to him but also drove him out of the Committee office.
On November 8, 2010, Munkhdalai visited the Autonomous Region Nationality Affairs Committee for the second time to raise the concern. The Deputy Director of the Committee surnamed Wang yelled at him and called him an "old dog that has nothing to do" and drove him out of the office.
On March 14, 2011, Munkhdalai’s request for withdrawal with his signature in Mongolian was rejected again by the Hohhot City Xin Hua Street Branch of Agricultural Bank, demonstrating that earlier promises made to him were not respected throughout the entire banking system.
"There is no guarantee that the notice given to me is fully implemented," Munkhdalai told SMHRIC when he was asked whether he is hopeful about the last promise, "but that does not stop me from continuing to fight for my legal rights."
"Although protecting our national language, culture and identity is a long and difficult journey, we must take it on. If we do not fight for our own rights, who else will stand up for them?" Munkhdalai wrote on his personal blog on March 23, 2012.
In recent years, in order to protect their legal rights, thousands of Southern Mongolians have launched non-violent non-cooperation movements at the grassroots level by expressing their disobedience and filing lawsuits against government branches in accordance with Chinese relevant laws and regulations. According to communications SMHRIC received, last year alone, at least 700 similar complaints were filed against various levels of Chinese government branches for their discriminatory policies towards Southern Mongolians.