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  Fresh wave of herders' protests erupts following Chinese Premier's visit to Southern Mongolia
April 3, 2014
New York
Mongolian herders from Urad Front Banner and Urad Rare Banner clash with Chinese police in front of the government building of Bayannuur  Municipality ( SMHRIC photo, March 2014. See below for more photos)


Chinese riot police and Public Security personnel in Hohhot, capital of Southern Mongolia, cracked down on the protest of Mongolian herders from Urad Middle Banner (SMHRIC photo, March 2014. See below for more photos)


Mongolian herders from eastern Southern Mongolia's Heshigten Banner staged protests in front of a Chinese mining company called "Datang International Ke-qi Coal Based Gas Co. Ltd.," (SMHRIC photo, March 2014. See below for more photos)  
Following the recent visit by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to Southern (Inner) Mongolia last week, Mongolian herders staged a fresh wave of protests in western Southern Mongolia’s Bayannuur Municipality (“ba yan nuo er shi” in Chinese) and eastern Southern Mongolia’s Heshigten Banner (“ke shi ke teng qi” in Chinese). They demanded the protection of herders’ rights and grazing lands as well as an immediate halt to the destruction of the grasslands by Chinese miners and settlers.

On March 31, 2014, more than 100 Mongolian herders from western Southern Mongolia’s Urad Front Banner (“wu la te qian qi” in Chinese) and Urad Rare Banner (“wu lat te hou qi” in Chinese) gathered in front of the Bayannuur Municipality government building. They protested the local authorities’ failure to compensate the herders for the losses caused by the authorities’  “Livestock Grazing Ban” and the “Ecological Migration” projects.

“Riot police and security personnel came to beat us up with electric batons,” a herder who participated in the protest told the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center (SMHRIC) over the phone, “many of us were injured, and some suffered serious bleeding”.

According to the information received from the protesters, at least 39  herders including 24 from Urad Front Banner and 15 from Urad Rare Banner were arrested and detained. Dozens were hospitalized after being severely beaten up by police.

“The government is called ‘People’s Government’, but we as people are treated brutally by the ‘People’s Government’ when we come to appeal for relief from the problems we are facing,” stated the protesters in a written statement and further warned that “the government’s brutal response will lead to further anger by the herders.”

As the Chinese Premier Li Keqiang arrived in Southern Mongolia last week, nearly a hundred Mongolian herders from the Urad Middle Banner mounted a two-day long protest in front of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region Government building at the capital city of Hohhot from March 26 to March 28, 2014. They demanded the Chinese authorities halt illegal land grabs, return the local herders’ grazing lands and stop the destruction of the grasslands by Chinese miners and farmers.

Hundreds of riot police and local Public Security Bureau from Urad Middle Banner were mobilized to put down the protest. All protesters were forcibly taken back to their homes by the local police forces. An elderly herdswoman fell unconscious on the ground from a heart attack during the police dispersal action.

“Specially dispatched riot police reinforced by the local police from our Banner rounded us up in front of the Autonomous Region Government building,” a herder who asked not to be identified told SMHRIC, “they forcibly threw us into police vehicles and brought us back home yesterday without giving any response to our demands.”

Major concerns the herders brought to the attention of higher authorities in the regional capital included:

1. Illegal grazing land expropriation by local government officials without herders’ full consent;

2. Illegal land grabs by Chinese miners and military bases;

3. Destruction of the grasslands and pollution of natural environment by Chinese settlers;

4. The local authorities’ deliberate retaliation toward the herders by changing their household registration status from “rural” to “other”;

“Over the past eight years we have been appealing to the Banner government, regional government and even to the Central Government in Beijing on multiple occasions about our grievances,” another herder told SMHRIC, “none of our concerns has ever been taken seriously by the government.”

In the east, about two hundred Mongolian herders from Heshigten Banner’s Darhan Sum gathered in front of the Inner Mongolia Datang International Keqi Coal-based Gas Co. Ltd. offices, demanding an immediate halt to the destruction and pollution of the grazing lands.

Jointly operated by Beijing based Chinese companies including Beijing Gas and Datang Power, this company not only occupied a large piece of grazing land of the local Mongolian herder’s community, but also dumped a large quantity of toxic industrial wastes directly on the grasslands without any proper treatment.

“Not only has our grazing land turned into a sewage dumping ground, but also our once clean blue sky is filled with thick black smoke,” a herder from the affected community of Darhan Sum told SMHRIC in a phone interview, “the government officials who are bribed by these Chinese companies have no intention whatsoever of redressing our grievances.”

Posts circulated via Chinese social media including QQ, Weixin, Teng Xun, and Ren Ren by the Southern Mongolians state that Chinese Premier Li Keqiang was on an important mission to explore the possibility of further Chinese immigration to Southern Mongolia from Chinese provinces.

“Li Keqiang visited his colonial area Southern Mongolia to inspect the mines and projects of the ‘Southern Immigrants to the North’,” a Wei Xin post says, “all government personnel were ordered to wear traditional Mongolian clothing during his visit.”

The China Economic Net, an official Chinese news organization, reported that Li Keqiang emphasized during his visit to eastern Southern Mongolia that “China’s 1.3 billion people need food and clothes”, and “this must depend on farmers.”  None of the herders’ issues was mentioned.


Mongolian herders from Urad Middle Banner protest in Hohhot, capital of Southern Mongolia, March 26-28, 2014




Mongolian herders from Urad Rare Banner clash with Chinese police in front of the government building of Bayannuur Municipality, March 31, 2014




Mongolian herders from Heshigten Banner protested against a Chinese mining company called "Datang International Ke-qi Coal-baseds Gas Co. Ltd.," March 26-28, 2014




Southern Mongolians say over the Internet that Li Keqiang "visited China's colonial area Southern Mongolia for inspecting mines and the project of 'Southern Immigrants to the North'", March 2014




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