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Herders protest land grab, six arrested

May 21, 2021
New York


Herders protest land grab. Araliin-Ehi Gachaa, Tevseg Township of Horchin Right Wing Front Banner (SMHRIC - 2021-05-13)


Police cracking down on the protest. Araliin-Ehi Gachaa, Tevseg Township of Horchin Right Wing Front Banner (SMHRIC - 2021-05-13)


Herders on horseback confronting gravel miners. Araliin-Ehi Gachaa, Tevseg Township of Horchin Right Wing Front Banner (SMHRIC - 2021-05-13)


Grazing land turned to gravel pit. Araliin-Ehi Gachaa, Tevseg Township of Horchin Right Wing Front Banner (SMHRIC - 2021-05-13)



On May 13, 2021, six herders from the Tevseg Township of eastern Southern Mongolia’s Horchin Right Wing Front Banner were arrested for protesting a land grab by Chinese peasants and local authorities. The arrested herders have been identified as Ms. Tsetsenchimeg, Mr. Tumurbagan, Mr. Davharbayar, Mr. Juramt, Mr. Hongjin, and Mr. Hurtsaa.

According to other herders from the local community, the six were taken away from their homes on the evening of May 13 by the local Public Security authorities. The whereabouts of the detainees remain unknown. Their relatives have been denied the right to visit and communicate with the detainees.

“Tsetsemchimeg is my sister,” Mr. Baljiinyam Bayaguud, an exiled dissident who currently lives in the independent country of Mongolia, told the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center (SMHIRC). “Before I escaped the persecution to leave Southern Mongolia, I was also one of the organizers of this protest that started five years ago.”

Mr. Bayaguud told the SMHIRC that in 2016, the local authorities of Tevseg Township and Araliin-Ehi Gachaa (an administration unit comprised of several villages) arbitrarily seized a large swathe of traditional grazing land used by more than 100 herders’ households and sold it to Chinese peasants and Chinese construction companies.

According to a written complaint sent to the local environmental protection authorities, the Tevseg Township Land Management Bureau mobilized a construction team to “illegally open gravel pits, seriously destroying the natural environment.”

“A large number of trees have been cut down and roads have been built for transportation without our consent,” the complaint states. “Herders complained to the Gachaa party secretary, who promised to halt the gravel extraction by August 24, 2020.”

The local authorities failed to keep their promise. “Illegal extraction intensified and the production has doubled, causing further damage to the environment,” said the complaint, dated August 28, 2020.

“Pastoralism is virtually impossible in my home place thanks to the Chinese authorities’ systematic confiscation of grazing lands,” Mr. Bayaguud said.

“What is even more egregious is that the Township Gachaa officials are now gathering all herders of Araliin-Ehi to give a training session to indoctrinate the so-called ‘Chinese Nationality Common Identity,’ accusing the herders of disturbing social order and sabotaging ethnic harmony,” Mr. Bayaguud added.

Following the crackdown on last September’s region-wide protests sparked by the Chinese Central Government’s aggressive policy of wiping out Mongolian-language education, the Chinese Central Government has doubled down on its effort to eradicate Mongolian language, culture and identity in Southern Mongolia.

The core of this massive undertaking, which is widely considered by Mongolians as a wholesale cultural genocide, is a region-wide intensive training program called “Inculcating the Sense of Chinese Nationality Common Identity.”

The herders who defend their right to ancestral land and traditional ways of life have become the prime target of this training. According to a pamphlet issued internally by the Chinese authorities, the training is designed to force the “masses of all ethnic groups to recognize and accept the great mother nation, Chinese nationality, Chinese culture, the Chinese Communist Party and socialism with Chinese characteristics.”


Herders' complaints:






Herders protesting land grab:







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