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  Tourist site for Genghis khan is condemned by Mongols

By Richard Spencer in Ordos, Inner Mongolia
The Daily Telegraph (London)
November 12, 2004, Friday

Chinese plans to redevelop and privatise Genghis Khan's mausoleum have aroused furious opposition from the Mongolian warrior tribe who protect it and prompted new fears over China's relations with ethnic minorities.

The Darhads are scattered throughout both Inner Mongolia and the independent (Outer) Mongolia to the north, and some are still employed to guard the relics, which include Genghis's saddle and black wooden bow.

They are furious that a new mausoleum developed by the ethnic Chinese Han to boost tourism revenue will rob them of their heritage.

The government has moved quickly to quash possible protests. A concert by a popular rock group in Hohhot, the capital of Chinese Inner Mongolia, has been banned and students put under curfew.

Genghis's mausoleum is contained within a three-domed building on Inner Mongolia's Ordos plateau. Although the building is recent, tradition has it he chose the spot himself as he passed through on the way to his final war in 1227.

The Darhads keep Genghis's ceremonial butter lamp lit and every year perform the ritual filling of his wooden bucket with mare's milk. The bucket, it is said, leaks in the direction that will bring the Mongols prosperity.

Towering over this scene to the south are two enormous concrete plinths topped by rearing white concrete horses, a half-built "Second Mausoleum".

The two plinths are joined by a metal chain symbolising Genghis Khan's union of Asia and Europe, according to the private Donglian Construction Corporation which has been contracted to develop the site to boost tourism.

Hugejiletu, a 39th-generation Darhad who seems more nervous than a Mongolian nobleman should, said: "I just want my nine-year-old son to be able to inherit my position after me."

A woman from a Darhad family - only men can be guardians themselves - was more open. "We are all strongly opposed. We are angry about Han [ethnic Chinese] building a mausoleum for Mongolians. We are also angry about Han people using the Mongolian name and Mongolian traditions to make money."

Many Mongolians remember the Cultural Revolution, when they suffered particular persecution. According to reports, between 10,000 and 17,000 Mongolians died in the terror, 87,000 were crippled and 346,000 persecuted.

After the Darhads wrote recently to the New York-based Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Centre to protest about the mausoleum's redevelopment, the government moved again.

Hurd, a popular group from the Outer Mongolian capital Ulan Bator, was banned from performing at a university on Oct 29, even as 2,000 students gathered for the concert. According to the human rights group, protest ringleaders were detained.

"We were told it had been cancelled and we could not leave the campus that day," said one student. "During the day, if there were gatherings of people the police or security guards would break them up."

After waves of immigration, the region's four million Mongolians are vastly outnumbered by 19 million Han.

Only half still speak the language, and just a quarter write it.






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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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