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  Protests spread in Southern Mongolia, many arrested
June 9, 2015
New York


Mongolian herders arrested in Bairin Right Banner for blocking high way construction that occupied their grazing land.


Herders from Ar-horchin Banner staged sit-in protest for the local government's arbitrary land appropriation.


Mongolian herder Buyan was beaten unconscious during a clash with the local forestry bureau and "Livestock Grazing Ban Taskforce" personnel.


Urad Middle Banner herders were arrested for protesting in front of the government building.  

As Chinese authorities intensify their economic exploitation through arbitrary expropriation of grazing lands in Southern (Inner) Mongolia, protests by rural Mongolian herders have spread across Southern Mongolia’s pastoralist communities. Over the past week, Mongolian herders staged protests on at least five separate occasions in their respective Banners (equivalent to a county) demanding the right to their grazing lands. At least 17 herders were arrested and many beaten up by police.

Since early May this year, Mongolian villagers from Tulee Gachaa (gachaa is equivalent to village), located in Mingren Som (som is equivalent to township), belonging to Naiman Banner (banner is equivalent to county) of eastern Southern (Inner) Mongolia’s Tong Liao Municipality have staged a protest against the expropriation of their lands by a government backed Chinese-run forestry company called “Xing Long Gao Forestry”. The villagers have lost about 4,000 hectare of land to the forestry company since 2011.

On May 9, 2015, five representatives from the community were arrested while they visited Beijing to appeal to the Central Government of China about their grievances.  They were taken back to Naiman Banner and put under detention immediately. On May 12, 2015, three more Mongolian villagers were arrested from Tulee Gachaa and detained for protesting the land grab. Almost a month has passed yet all eight villagers are still being detained in an undisclosed place. Family members are denied the right to visit them. The authorities simply told the family members that they are being held for “causing public disturbances”.

On May 28, more than a hundred Mongolian herders representing 40 some households from Gegeen-engger Village of Guilestei Gachaa in eastern Southern Mongolia’s Bairin Right Banner (“ba lin you qi” in Chinese) blocked a construction site on State Highway 303 that was running through the herders’ grazing land. Herders demanded the halt of construction and compensation for the loss of grazing lands.

More than 40 police arrived to the scene and carried out the crackdown. Electric batons and pepper spray were used. Three herders were arrested and taken away by police. Among the many beaten up, one woman suffered from severe bleeding and was hospitalized. Four other herdswomen were injured. Police confiscated herders’ cell phones used to take pictures and videos of the scene of crackdown.

Since mid-May, 2015, over 200 Mongolian herders from Bayan-undur Som of eastern Southern Mongolia’s Ar-Horchin Banner (“a lu ke er qin qi” in Chinese) staged a sit-in protest on grazing land that was confiscated by the local government. On May 31, 2015, five herders were arrested and detained for organizing the sit-in. Tensions have escalated as the local authorities attempted to forcibly drive away the herders who returned to their grazing lands and grazed their livestock on the so-called “protected area”.

The local herders informed the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center (SMHRIC) that the local government expropriated a large tract of grazing land totaling about 94,000 hectares in 1997. It was classified a “protected area” and herders and their livestock were forcibly displaced from the land. In 2000, defiant herders returned to the land and reclaimed their right to continue their traditional way of life. Local authorities mobilized a large number of riot police and security personnel to crackdown on the herders. Livestock were shot dead, and herders beaten up and fined.

Last week, nearly a hundred Mongolian herders from western Southern Mongolia’s Urad Middle Banner marched toward the Banner capital Haliut Town protesting the expropriation of grazing land for mining. A video clip SMHRIC received from the herders shows police rushing to the scene and carrying out arrests. The herder’s leader, Xiaolong, was taken away by police and is still under detention.

“This is a busy season for us”, a herder who asked not to be identified told SMHRIC over the phone, “we are planning to have a larger protest after this busy season is over.”

On June 3, 2015, herders from Ulzeimurun Som of eastern Southern Mongolia’s Zaruud Banner (“zha lu te qi” in Chinese) were attacked by the Banner’s Forestry Bureau personnel and “Livestock Grazing Ban Taskforce” (“jin mu dui” in Chinese) while they were grazing their animals on their own lands.

The video clips and pictures SMHRIC received from the herders show that more than a dozen police vehicles arrived to the scene to put down the protest. According to a written communication from the community, a herder named Buyan was beaten unconscious by the Forestry Bureau personnel and local police while he tried to stop them from confiscating his livestock. The police offered no explanation for their seizure of his animals. Currently he is under emergency medical treatment in the Banner hospital.



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

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