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  Inner Mongolia detains dozens in Communist party internet crackdown
The Guardian
September 6, 2013
Jonathan Kaiman in Beijing
Yakeshi City in Inner Mongolia: ethnic tensions are a source of social unrest in the resource-rich region. Photograph: Wang Wei/Xinhua Press/Corbis  
Chinese regional authorities arrest 52 people for illegally distributing information online and stirring up ethnic tension

Authorities in the northern Chinese region of Inner Mongolia have arrested 52 people for spreading "internet rumours", underscoring rising ethnic tensions in the area, a New York-based human rights group reported this week.

The detainees are suspected of "deliberately stirring up ethnic relations [and] encouraging the masses to appeal for their interests in a radical way such as [organising] student strikes and protest demonstrations", the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Centre reported on 4 September, citing a local police statement posted late last month.

The suspects were detained for illegally distributing 1,200 pieces of information, including "internet rumours and false reports of disaster, epidemic, and police emergency", according to the statement.

Both the statement and follow- up state media reports suggest that the detentions are part of a nationwide "strike hard" campaign by the Communist party to tighten its grip on the country's online communities.

On Friday afternoon, the Inner Mongolia autonomous region public security bureau could not be reached for comment.

Ethnic tensions have long been a source of social unrest in Inner Mongolia, a resource-rich region bordering Mongolia and Russia. Government mining programmes have dealt a blow to the region's natural environment, forcing many of its indigenous nomads to abandon their traditional way of life.

Ethnic Mongolians account for less than a fifth of the region's 24 million people, and many are discontent with a perceived lack of economic opportunities in towns and cities.

In May 2011, protests rippled through the region after Han Chinese drivers killed a Mongolian herder as he attempted to block a caravan of coal trucks. Inner Mongolian authorities deployed riot police, severed communications networks and barricaded university campuses, quashing the demonstrations shortly after they began.

Regional authorities arrested another 23 people in mid-August for circulating "internet rumours" that disaster victims from south-western Sichuan province would be relocated to Inner Mongolia, the state newswire Xinhua reported.

The recent spate of detentions has coincided with a thwarted protest in Ordos, a city in the region's arid west, according to the Washington-based broadcaster Radio Free Asia.

"In Ordos, a herder died after being run over, causing a mass incident because the construction of the railway was affecting the grasslands and causing opposition among local people," Xi Haiming, the chairman of the Germany-based Inner Mongolian League for the Defense of Human Rights, told the broadcaster.



From Yeke-juu League to Ordos Municipality: settler colonialism and alter/native urbanization in Inner Mongolia

Close to Eden (Urga): France, Soviet Union, directed by Nikita Mikhilkov

Beyond Great WallsBeyond Great Walls: Environment, Identity, and Development on the Chinese Grasslands of Inner Mongolia

The Mongols at China's EdgeThe Mongols at China's Edge: History and the Politics of National Unity

China's Pastoral RegionChina's Pastoral Region: Sheep and Wool, Minority Nationalities, Rangeland Degradation and Sustainable Development

Changing Inner MongoliaChanging Inner Mongolia: Pastoral Mongolian Society and the Chinese State (Oxford Studies in Social and Cultural Anthropology)

Grasslands and Grassland Science in Northern ChinaGrasslands and Grassland Science in Northern China: A Report of the Committee on Scholarly Communication With the People's Republic of China

The Ordos Plateau of ChinaThe Ordos Plateau of China: An Endangered Environment (Unu Studies on Critical Environmental Regions)

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