|July 19, 2013|
On July 15, 2013, 38 Mongolian herders forcibly displaced from their
traditional grazing land near the Khan-uul Forest Area (“han shan lin
chang” in Chinese) in eastern Southern (Inner) Mongolia’s Zaruud Banner
(“zha lu te qi” in Chinese) were arrested at the train station of
Tongliao City. Nearly a hundred public security personnel carried out
the action as the herders were preparing to travel to Beijing to stage a
demonstration in protest of the authorities’ forced displacement and
poorly planned resettlement.
According to the latest information the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center (SMHRIC) received regarding this case, the 38 Mongolian herders, mostly female, represented the entire displaced herders’ community of the Khan-Uul forest area. All of their train tickets, cell phones and other belongings were confiscated before they were taken away by the Public Security personnel. Those who resisted were beaten up.
“The herders are still being detained at the Tongliao Municipality Public Security Bureau Detention Center,” one of the displaced herders who asked not to be identified told SMHRIC about the detainees’ current status, “no family members are allowed to visit them.”
“When asked to give a legal explanation, the Public Security people told us that the herders need to be ‘educated’ and are being ‘educated’ in the detention center,” the herder added.
According to an appeal letter posted on the US-based “Mongolia News” (http://mongoliinmedee1.blogspot.com) dated March 18, 2013 and signed by the herders from the affected community, about 183 herder households from the Khan-Uul forest area were forcibly relocated to the capital of Zaruud Banner, Lubei, in September 2008. The stated justification from the authorities was to give way to a national project of making the area a “nature reserve”.
The letter complained that the authorities’ promise to provide employment opportunities, adequate housing and other benefits turned out to be an empty one.
“We were forcibly relocated to Lubei Township abandoning our cozy nest behind. Yet, we don’t even know whose property we are thrown into. How can we make a living and survive in the city?” The appeal states that the ownership of the housing provided to them is in question and the building inferior in quality.
The displaced herders are also concerned that the authorities are inviting miners and tourist companies under the name of “development” and “national project” to open up the land the herders were forced off for the purpose of generating profits.
“The Banner Government promised, after we move off the land, to make the Khan-Uul forest area a ‘no man's land’ where farming, livestock grazing, baling hay and any illegal activity are strictly prohibited. However, currently some miners have already entered the area and unscrupulously opened up mines,” the herders expressed their doubts on the authorities’ claim of “nature reserve” in the appeal letter, “how can you call this type of area a ‘nature reserve’?”
“This is how the authorities kick us Mongolians out of our ancestral land and put their own Chinese people to occupy our land forever,” the above-mentioned herder told SMHRIC.
The herders' claim seems to be well-founded. On November 11, 2010, the Chinese Ministry of Land and Resources announced on its website that “the Zaruud Banner Khan-Uul Forest Area Polymetallic Ore Inspection Project was listed as one of 21 key projects in 2010.” The Tongliao Municipality Party authorities “urged to speed up and complete the detailed inspection as quickly as possible in consideration of starting the mining operation by the end of next year (2011)”, the announcement states.