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  Writer placed under criminal detention for defending herders' rights
April 16, 2019
New York



Writer Mr. O. Sechenbaatar was placed under criminal detention for defending herders' rights in Southern Mongolia (SMHRIC - 20190415)


O. Sechenbaatar authored a number of books on Mongolian culture and folk arts (SMHRIC - 20190415)


O. Sechenbaatar was placed under criminal for "obstructing official business" (SMHRIC - 20190415)


On April 16, 2019, more than a hundred of Mongolian herders gathered in front of the local government to demand O.Sechenbaatar's release (SMHRIC - 20190416)


Mongolian herders of Heshigten Banner were beaten and taken away by Chinese police for defending their grazing land (SMHRIC - 20170725)  

On April 12, 2019, Mr. O. Sechenbaatar, a Mongolian writer and teacher, was arrested along with another protester named Baldan from a protest that took place near Lake Dalainuur in Southern (Inner) Mongolia’s Heshigten Banner. The two were handcuffed and taken to the Heshigten Banner Public Security Bureau.

According to the detention warrant the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center (SMHRIC) received from the herders, O. Sechenbaatar was placed under criminal detention for “obstructing official business” in accordance with the People’s Republic of China Criminal Act Clause No. 82. The warrant did not specify the length of the detention but noted that the detainee is being held at the Heshigten Banner Detention Center.

“What worries us is that this is a criminal detention, not an ordinary administrative detention,” Ms. Bao Guniang, another Mongolian herder who was sentenced to three years in jail with four years’ reprieve after being held under criminal detention for more than a year, said in a WeChat statement. “This means the authorities have already prepared the criminal charges for Mr. O. Sechenbaatar.”

As the Chinese Government plans to ban pastoralist communities of three Sums (a Sum is equivalent to a township) from accessing their traditional grazing lands in the surrounding wetland areas of the Dalainuur National Nature Reserve, on April 12 more than 200 local herders gathered in front of the government building of Darhan-uul Sum to demand an immediate suspension of the plan in order to allow the local communities to protect their natural environment with their indigenous knowledge.

“We have lived on this land for hundreds of years and kept the perfect balance of man and nature without having the ignorant and profit-chasing Chinese to teach us,” Mr. Baldan, the local herder who was taken away from the protest along with Mr. O. Sechenbaatar but was released after a 10-hour detention, said in a WeChat statement. “What we are asking for is, leave us alone and let us manage our own environment. Instead, the government must withdraw these fishing companies and so-called ‘nature reserve’ entities that killed our wild life, depleted our water, and destroyed our land for profit,” Baldan added.

Born in 1951 in Heshigten Banner, Mr. O. Sechenbaatar is a well-known writer who authored a number of books, including Spring Blossoms, Autumn of Tsunkh, Story of A Bald Thief, Heshigten Folklore, and Collection of Southern Mongolian Folklore Arts. O. Sechenbaatar also wrote and published hundreds of essays, poems, and lyrics in Mongolian language journals and magazines. He has been teaching in the Darhan-uul Middle School.

As a staunch advocate of indigenous rights of local Mongolian pastoralist communities, O. Sechenbaatar also hosted a number of WeChat groups to provide local Mongolian herders with a venue to discuss the pressing issues in their communities, including mining, environmental destruction, pollution, and herders’ protests. Recently, O. Sechenbaatar also gave an interview with the state-run Inner Mongolia TV Mongolian Service on a government backed Chinese fishery’s intentional decimation of birds in the Dalainuur National Nature Reserve to boost the fish yields.

“’Obstructing official business’ is just an excuse. What the government is really trying to do is to accuse Sechenbaatar of the more serious crimes of ‘disturbing social order,’ ‘transferring information to foreigners,’ and ‘sabotaging national unity,’” a relative of O. Sechenbaatar told the SMHRIC over an audio statement.

Concerned about the 68-year-old detainee’s poor health, local herders are rallying over social media to stage more protests demanding the immediate release of O. Sechenbaatar. The local government has not yet responded to the herders’ demand.



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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

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