South China Morning
April 7, 2005
Ray Cheung in Beijing
relocation of herdsmen in Inner Mongolia for the sake of
environmental protection is causing massive human rights
violations to the indigenous people, a US-based advocacy group
The Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Centre in New
York brands the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region's so-called
"ecological immigration" policy a forced migration of hundreds
of thousands of herder families from their nomadic pastures.
"The policy has brought to the Mongols gross violations of their
human rights and created a crisis in social, economic, cultural,
physical and psychological conditions endangering the existence
of the Mongols as a people in the region," the centre says in a
"Ecological immigration is a painful, disruptive and involuntary
process that is not only against the will of the local Mongols
but also against nature."
Since 2001, Inner Mongolia's local authorities implemented a
five-year plan to relocate about 640,000 herders to small towns
and urban centres to stop overgrazing and prevent sandstorms and
desertification of the region's fragile grasslands.
But the report alleges the policy has devastated local
communities because the herders, who are mostly ethnic
Mongolians, can no longer practise their traditional way of life
and must conform to the Han Chinese society, centred on
agriculture and animal husbandry.
Combined with simultaneous polices encouraging Han Chinese from
across the mainland to settle in Inner Mongolia, the report says
the environmental migration is leading to the assimilation of
According to the report, the Han Chinese population has
increased from 200,000 in 1947 to 12 million, raising the ratio
of Han Chinese to Mongols from 1:5 to 6:1.
On the environmental damaged caused by herding, the report says
the impact of the herdsmen's farming was minimal compared with
the cultivation practices of Han Chinese farmers.
It also disputes the government's pledges that the herdsman will
be allowed onto the grasslands if the area is deemed to be
managed "scientifically and rationally" and that it can be used.
"These are conditions which can never be met by the Mongols,"
says the report, noting that the authorities have not classified
nomadic herding as "scientific and rational" and that
reusability standards have yet to be defined.
In addition, the report claims Inner Mongolian authorities have
adopted strong -arm tactics to implement so-called "ecological
immigration", citing numerous cases where herders refusing to be
relocated have been arrested, detained and beaten up.
Their private property has also been destroyed or confiscated.
Inner Mongolian officials were unable to be reached for comment