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CECC Annual Report 2017 excerpts on Southern Mongolian human rights

   
SMRHIC
Oct 7, 2017
New York

 

The following are excerpts on human rights issues of Southern Mongolia from the United States Congressional Executive Commission on China Annual Report 2017 released on October 5, 2017: 

     

[page 31-32]

ETHNIC MINORITY RIGHTS

Findings

• The UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston, following his 2016 visit to China, issued a report criticizing what he saw as authorities’ lack of consultation with ethnic minorities regarding economic development that affects them, and he recommended that the State Ethnic Affairs Commission develop policies integrating human rights considerations into all aspects of its policymaking.

• As in past reporting years, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region (IMAR) authorities detained Mongol herders who engaged in peaceful protests related to grasslands, including those who voiced their concerns online or talked with foreign reporters about their complaints.

• Mongol rights advocate Hada reportedly continued to press authorities to hold officials accountable for mistreating him during his 15-year prison sentence and subsequent detention and surveillance. IMAR authorities imprisoned Hada for 15 years starting in 1995 and then held him in extralegal detention for another 4 years, following his organization of peaceful demonstrations for Mongol rights and his establishment of the banned Southern Mongolian Democratic Alliance. In a November 2016 interview, he described his living conditions, in an apartment heavily surveilled by security personnel, as similar to those he experienced under detention, complaining that authorities had at times cut off his family’s water and heat in an effort to compel him to ‘‘cooperate with them and give up [his] ideas.’’

• Mongol parents and students in the IMAR reportedly faced limits on access to Mongolian-language instruction during the past reporting year, in spite of Chinese law protecting the use of minority languages. In late 2016, Mongol parents in Chifeng municipality, IMAR, published open letters on social media and demonstrated outside government offices to protest the appointment of Han Chinese principals to the only two kindergartens in Chifeng that provide instruction in the Mongolian language. The administrations of the two schools reportedly restricted the use of the Mongolian language, and at least one of the schools banned Mongol teachers from speaking Mongolian in the office.

Recommendations

Members of the U.S. Congress and Administration officials are encouraged to:

  • Continue to build the capacity of Mongol, Uyghur, and Tibetan groups working to advance human rights, environmental protection, economic development, and rule of law in China through U.S. foreign assistance funding and by encouraging additional support from both UN and non-governmental sources.

  • Convey to the Chinese government the importance of respecting and protecting ethnic minority cultures and languages. Urge Chinese officials to provide ethnic minority students and parents a choice of what language or languages of instruction should be used at schools they attend in accordance with the PRC Regional Ethnic Autonomy Law and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities. Call on Chinese officials to establish mechanisms preserving and expanding existing instruction in ethnic minority languages from the pre- school to the university level.

  • Call on the Chinese government to allow Mongol herders to exercise their fundamental rights of freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly, as well as the right to be free from arbitrary detention. Convey to Chinese officials the importance of consulting with ethnic minority communities regarding the impact of proposed development on their traditional grazing lands.

  • Urge Chinese authorities to end restrictions on the freedom of movement and other unlawful restrictions against Hada, his wife Xinna, and their son, Uiles. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights grants ‘‘everyone . . . the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.’’ Emphasize in meetings with Chinese officials the need to hold accountable local officials responsible for the continued persecution of Hada, Xinna, and Uiles.

 

[page 147-151]

LIMITS ON MONGOLIAN-LANGUAGE INSTRUCTION

Mongol parents and students in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region (IMAR) reportedly faced limits on access to Mongolian-language instruction during the past reporting year, in spite of Chinese law protecting the use of minority languages. In late 2016, Mongol parents in Chifeng municipality, IMAR, published open letters on social media and demonstrated outside government offices to protest the appointment of Han Chinese principals to the only two kindergartens in Chifeng that provide instruction in the Mongolian language. The administrations of the two schools reportedly restricted the use of the Mongolian language, and at least one of the schools banned Mongol teachers from speaking Mongolian in the office.In April 2017, four rights advocates, representing 429 Mongol teachers who had taught in the Mongolian language in Horchin (Ke’erqin) Right Forward Banner, Hinggan (Xing’an) League, IMAR, petitioned regional government authorities in Hohhot municipality, IMAR, over authorities’ dismissal of the teachers from their jobs beginning in the year 2000, which they said authorities did without providing justification.

Grasslands Protests in Inner Mongolia

During this reporting year, Mongol herders in the IMAR demonstrated over the state’s role in the loss of their traditional grazing lands, the harmful ecological effect of state development on grassland and livestock, and the state’s failure to provide herders with adequate compensation for their land. As in past reporting years, authorities detained many of the Mongol herders who peacefully protested, including those who voiced their concerns on- line or talked with foreign reporters about their complaints.

Representative examples of protests by Mongol herders and villagers included the following:

• On October 17, 2016, in Hailas (Hailasu) township, Ongniud (Wengniute) Banner, Chifeng, nearly 200 herders marched toward the construction site of a state-run pig farm and blocked the road, in protest against what they alleged was the farm’s occupation of their traditional grazing lands. Local officials reportedly sent more than 400 police officers to deal with the protest; the police beat many herders and detained at least three.

• On November 2, 2016, dozens of herders in Zaruud (Zalute) Banner, Tongliao municipality, IMAR, protested in front of banner government offices over an aluminum plant’s pollution of a local river, which the herders said had poisoned their sheep. Security personnel reportedly detained nine of the herders, and prevented others from attending the protest.

• On April 10, 2017, over 300 herders in Horchin (Ke’erqin) Left Rear Banner, Tongliao, gathered in an attempt to block bulldozers and tractors from turning up earth on their grazing lands for a government afforestation project. On April 13, security personnel reportedly took 13 of the herders into custody, placing them under administrative detention for 10 days.

• On April 10, 2017, in Horchin (Ke’erqin) Right Forward Banner, Hinggan (Xing’an) League, IMAR, over 3,000 Mongols protested in the streets and in front of a local government building, demanding compensation for Mongols whose traditional land had reportedly been taken or ruined due to state initiatives and policies. Protesters clashed with nearly 1,000 security personnel, who reportedly detained at least 30 people and beat many protesters, some severely.

In addition, in early August 2017, in Evenk Autonomous Banner, Hulunbei’er municipality, IMAR, more than 100 ethnic Evenki herders reportedly protested over restrictions on livestock grazing on local grasslands. Police reportedly beat and injured many of the herders.

Beginning on May 10, authorities in Xilingol (Xilinguole) League, IMAR, reportedly administratively detained Mongol Yangjindolma for 15 days for ‘‘inciting and planning an illegal gathering.’’ She told Radio Free Asia (RFA) that she had planned an activity to call for the designation of a ‘‘Protect the Grasslands Day,’’ and to commemorate the sixth anniversary of the death of Mongol herder Mergen, who was run over by a coal truck in 2011 while protesting against a mining company’s destruction of grasslands. On June 20, Yangjindolma submitted a petition in Hohhot municipality, IMAR, the regional capital, to protest against her alleged detention and torture. She told RFA that authorities had shackled her to a ‘‘tiger bench’’ for 24 hours while interrogating her.

Hada Continues To Protest Official Mistreatment

Mongol rights advocate Hada reportedly continued to press authorities to hold officials accountable for mistreating him during his 15-year prison sentence and subsequent detention and surveillance. IMAR authorities imprisoned Hada for 15 years starting in 1995 and then extralegally detained him for another 4 years, following his organization of peaceful demonstrations for Mongol rights and his establishment of the banned Southern Mongolian Democratic Alliance. In a November 2016 interview, he described his current living conditions, in an apartment heavily surveilled by security personnel, as similar to those he experienced under detention, and complained that authorities had at times cut off his family’s water and heat in an effort to compel him to ‘‘cooperate with them and give up [his] ideas.’’ In the same interview, his wife Xinna said Chinese officials were determined to force Hada to ‘‘admit to his crimes.’’ In a separate development, in May 2017, authorities in Hohhot reportedly forcibly demolished a building that Xinna used to store books and other items without her consent. In the summer of 2017, authorities reportedly restricted her Internet access.

In an example of government restrictions on Mongols’ freedom of speech, in October 2016, authorities shut down the Genghis Khan website, after numerous tributes to recently deceased Mongol rights advocate and author Govruud Huuchinhuu appeared on the site. Authorities had for years persecuted Huuchinhuu in part due to her advocacy on behalf of Hada.

[ The Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center (SMHRIC) is cited 24 times in the full report ]

Click here for the full report

 

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