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  Activist placed under criminal detention for "picking quarrels and provoking troubles"
   
SMHRIC
April 19, 2019
New York
 

 

 

Mr. Tsogjil, an activist and host of multiple WeChat group, was placed under criminal detention for an alleged "involvement in crime of picking quarrels and provoking troubles" (SMHRIC - 20190419)

 

 
 
Mr. Tsogjil's detention warrant does not specify the detention period although notes the location where the detainee is held (SMHRIC - 20190415)  

Mr. Tsogjil, a Mongolian activist who hosted multiple WeChat discussion groups, was arrested in Hohhot, capital city of Southern Mongolia (known as “Inner Mongolia”), on April 16, 2019. He was preparing to file an official complaint to the Autonomous Government concerning the authorities’ violation of rights of Mongolian herders. That same day, Tsogjil was brought back to his homeplace of Heshigten Banner and placed under criminal detention on a charge of “involvement in crime of picking quarrels and provoking troubles.”

“Around 8:00 p.m., Tsogjil was taken away by five plainclothes from a taxi he hired upon his arrival at a hotel in Hohhot where he was to stay,” Ms. Narnaa, a local herder familiar with the case, told the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center (SMHRIC) on the phone.

“In order not to put fellow herders at risk of arrest and detention, Tsogjil traveled alone to Hohhot with a great deal of first-hand materials about environmental destruction and rights violations in our communities near the Dalainuur National Nature Reserve areas,” Narnaa added.

The detention warrant issued by the Heshigten Banner Public Security Bureau explains that “In accordance with the People’s Republic of China Criminal Procedure Law Article 82 Clause 1, Tsogjil has been placed under criminal detention starting April 17, 2019, for his involvement in the crime of picking quarrels and provoking troubles.” The warrant does not specify the detention period but notes that the detainee is currently held at the Heshigten Banner Detention Center.

A native of Heshigten Banner, Tsogjil, 40 years old, has been active in advocating the local communities’ rights to use their native language, access their land, water and other resources, and maintain national identity. He has created and hosted at least five WeChat discussion groups with a total membership of nearly 2,500 people, of which majority are Mongolian herders and grassroots activists.

Prior to his arrest Tsogjil rallied the Mongolian herders for the release of the detained writer O.Sechenbaatar, in one of his WeChat discussion groups called “Language, Livestock and National Boundary.” “I ask our fellow herders from each and every village to gather in front of the Banner Government tomorrow to demand the immediate release of O.Sechenbaatar,” he wrote.

“O.Sechenbaatar went into jail for defending our land and rights. We all must wake up and take up the fight to protect our homeland,” Tsogjil said in the discussion group. “The authorities can arrest one of us, a few of us, but cannot arrest all of us.”

According to local communities and an official document issued by the Ulaanhad Municipal Government, “Proposal for Implementing Livestock Grazing Ban and Maintaining Vegetation and Livestock Balance in Dalainuur Basin of Heshigten Banner,” the Chinese authorities, in the name of the nature reserve, are preparing to appropriate the last piece of wetland where for generations the local communities have maintained their pastoralism. Despite the local authorities’ continuing crackdown and criminalization of protesters, herders from the affected communities have been courageously staging protests and filing complaints to higher authorities.

Local herders expressed their concerns in the chat group: “We are concerned about Tsogjil’s well-being. Family members are not allowed to meet him.” According to Tsogjil’s sister Muchir, family members were notified yesterday by the Public Security Bureau that he is undergoing criminal interrogation.

 

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