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  Herders stage protest in Beijing against the seizure of grazing lands
Jan 13, 2015
New York
Mr. Hada, prominent political prisoner who was released recently after serving a 19-year imprisonment and a 4-year extrajudicial detention, shows strong support for herders (SMHRIC photo)


Herders from Southern Mongolia are gathering in Beijing to protest the Chinese authorities' illegal occupation of grazing lands (SMHRIC photo)


Herders demand the Chinese authorities "return their rights to grazing lands" (SMHRIC photo)


Displaced herders are demanding to "return to traditional way of life and return to pastoralist community" (SMHRIC photo)  
From January 11 to 13, 2015, more than 50 herders from western Southern (Inner) Mongolia’s Durbed Banner (“si zi wang qi” in Chinese), and Sunid Right Banner ("su ni te you qi" in Chinese) marched toward Beijing. They are demanding Chinese authorities halt the Zureh (“zhu ri he” in Chinese) Military Training Base’s illegal occupation of the herders’ grazing land and end the forced displacement of Mongolian herders from their lands. Mr. Davshilt, one of the protest organizers, was questioned by local public security personnel and threatened with harsh punishment if he continued activities.

“Davshilt’s freedom has been restricted due to his activism and strong organizing skills. He is barred from traveling to Beijing and blocked from social media outlets, ” a close friend of Davshilt told the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center (SMHRIC).

The pictures sent from the herders protesting in Beijing show the herders, including several elderly women in traditional Mongolian garments, holding hand-written appeals (in both Mongolian and Chinese) urging the Chinese authorities to answer the following demands:

1. To stop the illegal military and local government occupation and appropriation of herders’ grazing lands;

2. To conduct a thorough central government investigation into the Zureh Military Training Base’s land appropriation;

3. To halt the authorities’ forced and violent displacement of Mongolian herders from their lands; and

4. To ensure that rural herders’ basic rights are not violated.

Mr. Hada, prominent political prisoner who was released from a “black jail” after serving a 15-year imprisonment and a 4-year extrajudicial detention, also sent out a statement to urge the Chinese authorities to protect Mongolian herders’ legal rights. In his statement, Hada asks the Chinese government to:

1. Give justice to rural herders by carrying out a thorough investigation of the Zureh Military Training Base criminal acts and bringing those criminals to justice;

2. Adopt a legal mechanism to guarantee similar cases will not happen again; and

3. Respond appropriately to herders’ grievances and correct local authorities’ illegal actions to prevent Southern Mongolia’s frequent ethnic conflicts, including the escalating murder rates of herders.

Beijing-based lawyer Mo Shaoping expressed his willingness to assist the herders in filing a lawsuit against the local authorities and the Zureh Military Training Base.

Chinese official reports show the Zureh Military Training Base occupies more than 1,066 square kilometers of Durbed and neighboring Shiliin-gol League’s grazing lands. Based off written communications from the affected communities last year, the SMHRIC counted a total of 708 Mongolian herder households consisting of 2,907 individuals who were forcefully relocated from their grazing lands to “immigration villages” near their respective Banner capitals. Neither proper compensation nor adequate housing was provided to the relocated herders.

In an effort to halt the military base’s destruction of their grazing lands, local herders carried out multiple protests near the base and appealed to various levels of the government, including the central government. All appeals were ignored, and protesters were forcefully dispersed.

In March 2013, led by Durbed Banner government officials, the local public security personnel arrived in the regional capital of Hohhot to block the herders from travelling to Beijing and making an appeal to the Chinese National People’s Congress. The public security personnel physically assaulted protestors before taking them back to their homes.

“We have been complaining to the local authorities for years,” stated a herder in a web chat group, “if they continue to ignore our plight, we will stage a coordinated large-scale demonstration across the herders’ communities.”




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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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