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  Herders protest economic injustices
October 14, 2014
New York
Mongolian herders from Shin-Barag Right Banner protested in front of the government building (SMHRIC photo)


Mongolian herders from Shin-Barag Right Banner demanded the government halt illegal land grab and protect herders' collective rights (SMHRIC photo)


Mongolian herders from Huvuut-shar Banner protested corporate monopoly and demanded the government protect herders' legal rights.


Huvuut-shar Banner herders carrying banner reading "pastoralist economy is the lifeline of herders, defend herders' legal rights".  
Nearly 400 Mongolian herders from central Southern (Inner) Mongolia’s Huvuut-shar Banner ("xiang huang qi" in Chinese) took to the streets of the Banner capital on October 8, 2014, carrying signs calling for protection of their traditional economy amid competition from government and corporate monopolies. A banner is a jurisdiction similar to a county in the West.

In a written statement provided to the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center (SMHRIC), the herders cited the illegal taking of their grazing land; concerns about mining; official inaction on natural disasters; and delays in compensation payments.

"Slaughter houses and meat processing companies that poured into Southern Mongolia are sheer corporate monopolies...for the sole purpose of making profit they not only violate relevant laws and regulations but also pay no regard to conventions of pastoralist economy," the herders said in the statement, which was entitled "Huvuut-shar Banner Herders' Demands to the Government". The herders also demanded that the government put to an end to corporate monopoly in pastoralist communities, and punish corrupt officials who support corporate monopoly at the cost of herders’ economic wellbeing.

"A few years ago the Banner Government announced that the Banner’s GDP has topped 0.2 billion yuan," the statement continued. "This was achieved by opening up oil, natural gas and other mineral resources from our grazing lands. Yet, not only did the government fail to respond to the natural disasters that strike our herders’ communities, but also it refused to pay the subsidies and compensations that we are entitled to receive."

Fearing that protest would spread, the Banner Government quickly arranged a meeting between the herders’ representatives and the Governor and Party Secretary.

In a second written statement, the herders said the Banner Government promised:

1. As subsidy to hay and fodder, 1,500 Yuan (approx $350 USD) will be paid to every household in cash card form;

2. As disaster relief fund, each household will be paid in cash card form 5 Yuan (approx $0.90 USD) per head of livestock in accordance with the livestock inventory taken on June 30, 2014;

3. 20% of the unpaid compensation for environmental loss will paid to each household in five days in cash card form;

The statement also said the Government "will respond to the remaining questions in five days."

As China accelerates its economic exploitation in Southern Mongolia, Mongolian herders are being forced to give up grazing land to mining or tourism industries, and to national development projects. Desperate herders have taken to the streets to demand that their rights be protected, only rarely receiving positive responses from the local authorities.

In another recent case, Mongolian herders from eastern Southern Mongolia’s Shin-Barag Right Banner ("xin ba er hu you qi" in Chinese) demonstrated in front of the Banner Government building. They protested the appropriation of grazing land by local authorities and mining companies, and demanded protection of herders’ collective rights to land, minerals, and water.



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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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