|Sep 9, 2015|
|Herders from Shuluun Tsagaan Banner taken away by police (SMHRIC video. See more viedos below)|
On September 6, 2015, as officials from the “Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region” Government and Party Committee paid an inspection tour to Mongolian pastoralist communities in central Southern Mongolia’s Shuluun Tsagaan Banner, more than 200 herders gathered in front of the Banner Government building in an attempt to bring their grievances to the officials’ attention.
Not only did the local authorities fail to meet the herders’ demands, but they also dispersed the protesters with riot police and security personnel. Seven herders were arrested that evening by the local Public Security Bureau.
On September 7, 2015, herders continued their protest in front of the Government Building. On that evening, five herders including Mr. Natsag, Mr. Nasan-ulzei, Mr. Yungee, Mr. Gangaa and Mr. Manglai were taken away by more than 20 Public Security personnel for organizing the protest.
“They did not give us any explanation as to why they carried out the arrest,” said Mr. Natsag, who was released on the next day, as he spoke with the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center (SMHRIC) over the phone. “Our cell phones were confiscated, and we were thrown into the Banner Public Security Bureau Detention Center.”
On September 8, 2015, over 400 herders took to the streets of the Banner capital Mingant Township again and marched along the Mingant-Shiliinhot Highway to try to block the path of the visiting officials, including Mr. Baatar, Chairman of the regional government, and Mr. Wang Jun, Party Secretary of the regional Communist Party Committee en route to Mingant Township from Shiliin-hot, the capital city of Shiliin-gol League.
Nearly 500 local Public Security personnel and riot police dispatched from neighboring Banners and Shiliin-hot were called to crackdown on the march, started beating the herders and carried out arrests. At least eight herders were arrested before they were taken away by police during the protest.
Video clips the SMHRIC received from the local community confirm that riot police and the Public Security personnel carried out beatings and arrests.
“Free the arrested,” screamed a Mongolian herdswoman lying under the police vehicle that appeared to contain the arrested herders and holding from the rear bumper of the vehicle. “Leave my people alone!”
“Herders’ grievances have continually been ignored by the government,” said a herder named Erdenbaatar over the phone to SMHRIC. “We have been gathering for three days already and are hoping that the higher authorities would pay attention to what we have been experiencing in our rural communities due to both human destruction and natural disaster.”
“Unfortunately, not only are we barred from appealing to the visiting officials but also were threatened, beaten up and arrested when we marching on the highway,” said Erdenbaatar. “They even control what we should say and what should not during the officials’ visit to our Banner.”
“Around 8:00 PM of September 8, finally the Banner Government officials agreed to meet with us,” said a herder named Bataa via text message to the SMHRIC, “but when we met them, they tried to threaten us with arrest and possible imprisonment instead of listening to what we have to say.”
On September 9, 2015, the protest continued. About 200 herders occupied the Banner Government building’s main lobby and the building entrance, demanding the immediate release of the arrested herders and redress to the issues the local herders are facing.
“Appropriation of grazing lands and struggle for survival by Mongolian herders have been widespread across Southern Mongolia today,” said Ms. Xinna, an outspoken critic of the Chinese policies in Southern Mongolia and wife of prominent political prisoner Mr. Hada, in her recent article. “As the legitimate owner of the land, the Mongolian herders have been forced to leave their homes and communities due to appropriation of grazing lands that came under various excuses.”
Shuluun Tsagaan Banner herders' protest (Sep 6-9, 2015, SMHRIC video):