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Case Study on Chinese Companies' Illegal Occupation of

Mongolian Herders' Grassland in Ujumchin

Left Banner, Inner Mongolia



[ The following information is provided by Ceng Jing Cao Yuan ("Echoing Steppe") website created by the Beijing "educated youth" who were sent down to Ujumchin Left Banner to live and work during the Cultural Revolution. English translation of the documents is by Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center ]



Documents Links





The Division No.6 of Inner Mongolian Development Force occupies and makes use of more than 10,000 square kilometers grassland and forest of Ulgai, Mand-bulag, Bogd-uul, Heseg-uul, Bayannuur, and Huulin-gol areas at the upper part of Ulgai River Valley in Ujumchin Left Banner. More than 10,000 troops, peasant workers, and retired soldiers are stationed there. Grasslands are cultivated and Bogd-uul Mountain is completely deforested.



In 1975, Development Force is disbanded, and the above mentioned areas are taken over by Inner Mongolian Land Cultivation Bureau. Ulgai Farm Management Bureau is established there, and grasslands were continued to be cultivated. In 1983, the Bureau is changed to Ulgai Farm Business Joint Company. In February 1993, Ulgai Open Economic Zone is established there. Lands are rented to more than 20 companies for grazing, cultivating, and other business activities that encourage peasants from interior provinces to immigrate to Ulgai River Valley and develop immigrant villages. In 1998, the dam of the river breaks through its banks. In 2002, the League invests to rebuild the dam.

Document (N/A)


In 1984, Inner Mongolia starts implementing pastoral area land contract policy, and Mand-dulag Farm and Bogd-uul Mountain Forest Station are returned under Ujumchin Left Banner’s jurisdiction. Rehabilitation is announced to herd owners, and herds are returned to them. Grassland is distributed according to the number of people and contracted and managed by individuals.

On one hand, this “grassland equal distribution” policy plays a positive role in which land use right is clearly defined. However, on the other hand, it results in the elimination of grassland traditional nomadic lifestyle that has been practiced for thousands of years. Wildlife free migration is also terminated as a result.

Left Ujumchin Banner Government Document


“Grassland Law of the People’s Republic of China” is passed to stop grassland cultivation. 

“Grassland Act”


By 1986, a total of 16,000 hectare grassland is cultivated in Ulgai River Valley.

By 1996, cultivated area reaches 93,700 hectares, and a dam built on the upper stream of Ulgai River threatens the eco-system of lower basin of Ulgai River. In 1998, the dam of the river breaks through its banks. In 2002, the League invests to rebuild the dam.

Chinese Academy of Science document 1997


“Land Management Law of the People’s Republic of China” is passed to legally to regulate the approval rights of converting farm land into development-use land.

“Grassland Management Act”


In 1986, the government of Ujumchin Left Banner occupies 100 Mu (6.7 hectare ) grassland to build a paper mill at herders’ contracted land in Dund-Gobi Som.



Ujumchin Left Banner’s herders obtain grassland contract and management license.



The government of Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region adopts a series of policies and measures (commission and investment rate 1% to 10%) to attract and encourage investment. Enterprises from interior provinces cease the opportunity to transfer their pollutions to the areas. “For short term interests, some regions carry out activities to transfer their wastes to the western areas without hesitating to victimize the environment.”



When visiting the grassland, many educated youths of the website ( Ceng Jing Cao Yuan – “Echoing Steppe”) who were sent down to the grassland during the Cultural Revolution see that in the south of Jiran-bulag highway in Ujumchin Left Banner’s Bayan-hudag Som, herders-contracted grassland is occupied by a Silver Mining Company who opened up a mine and washed ore. Wide range of grassland is destroyed by the randomly drained sewage and tailing waters.



China’s “Land Management Act( Amended )” is passed. “… Article 45, for taking over to make use of the following lands, State Department approval is needed: (1), basic farmland; (2), cultivated areas other than basic farmland exceeded 35 hectares; (3), other type of lands exceeded 70 hectares …”

“Grassland Management Act”

January – June 2000

On January 15, Shiliin-gol League Economic Bureau and the owner of a private firm called Bai Yang Dian Paper Mill sign on a lease contract in which the latter rents Ujumchin Left Banner Paper Mill’s 119 Mu (8 hectare) land including the factory building, and the annual rental is 500,000 yuan and the rent term is 15 years. On the contract, the government of Ujumchin Left Banner promises to “provide the tenant with enough free lands for sewage drain”. In June of the same year, the paper mill arbitrarily drains heavily polluted sewage to 7 herder households’ 3,000 Mu (200 hectare) contracted grassland without having any “environmental assessment”. “No pollution treatment infrastructure is built, and the grassland is directly polluted”.


original contract


contracted land location

herders’ appeal

Summer 2000

A private mining company from Chi-feng City signs on a 20-year contract with the government of Ujumchin Left Banner, and illegally opens up mines of iron, zinc, and multi-metal, and illegally occupies 5 herder househoulds’ 4,000 Mu (270 hectare) grassland in Mand-bulag Som. The website (Ceng Jing Cao Yuan – “Echoing Steppe”) continues to make reports on Ujumchin Left Banner’s grassland eco-system (herders submit joint letter to the website).

Herders’ letter with joint signature

End of 2000

Ujumchin Left Banner Mand-bulag Som’s herders and former “educated youth” who lived in Mand-bulag Som draft a letter of appeal proposing to protect grassland eco-system and stop man-made destruction in China’s northern grassland.


January 2001

Xie Zhen-hua, head of State Environmental Bureau, makes comment on the joint letter, and asks the Environmental Bureau’s Investigation Department to investigate the illegal occupation of grassland in Ujumchin Left Banner.

Attachment 3

Spring 2001

10,000 Mu (670 hectare) contracted grassland of herders from the upper reach of Nariin-gol River in Mand-bulag Som of Ujumchin Left  Banner was occupied by a unit of the Open Economic Zone for coal plant.

Attachment photo

April 1, 2001

Jiran-bulag Silver Mine pollution accident occurs. Herder Sengeerinchin’s is located on the south eastern corner of the Silver Mine, and his 29 sheep are poisoned to death after drinking the tailing water that is drained to his grassland. Because it is lamb delivering season, many lambs are poisoned to death.

Media reports

April 11, 2001

Ujumchin Left Banner Government issues a notice to suspend the silver mine from production.

Photocopy of the document

May 1, 2001

The “People’s Government of Ujumchin Left Banner” issues “The Notice to Allow Jiram-bulag Silver Mining to Resume Production” to the company, and the silver mining goes into operation again.

Photocopy of the document

Mid-May 2001

Herders and cadres of Ujumchin Left Banner report to us over telephone.


June 6, 2001

Correspondents from our website, Guangming Daily, and Economic Daily visit Ujumchin Left Banner and interview herders from Bayan-huv, Mandah, and distribute Mongolian version of “Environmental Law”, “Grassland Law” among the herders. Since June, news media such as Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference Newspaper, Economic Daily, Guangming Daily, Environmental Daily publish articles on grassland environment issues.

Media reports

July 4, 2001

Left Ujumchin Banner Environmental Bureau receive reports about another accident in which herders’ livestock are killed for drinking cyanogens contained sewage water, and the following day personnel is sent to investigate. On July 6, the Environmental Bureau reports to the Banner Government. After 11 days, Left Ujumchin People’s Government suspends the Silver Mine from operating to resolve the pollution problem.


July 2001

Our website proposes to publish Mongolian versions of legal acts and promote legal education in pastoral areas. This included Mongolian version of “Environmental Act”, “Grassland Act”, “Mining Production Act”, and “Village Committee Organization Law”.


June 2001

Choboolong Iron-Zinc-Multimetal Mine workers increase to 400 people, and 6 shafts are opened up. Slag and ore are dumped everywhere. 12 more shafts are under construction, and a 100 meter long 2 meter high dam is built with bulldozer at the left side of the main mine for collecting sewage. This mine occupies 4,000 Mu (270 hectare) best quality grassland, and violates following provisions:

<<Chinese Land Management Law>>: “… Article 45, to take over to make use of the following lands, State Department approval is needed: (1), basic farmland; (2), cultivated areas other than basic farmland exceeded 35 hectares; (3), other type of lands exceeded 70 hectares …”

Land Management Act

China Environmental Daily2001.11.24)


September 2001

Correspondents from Guangming daily and Economic Daily report to the State Environmental Bureau about the industrial pollution in  Ujumchin Left Banner.


November 2001

Left Ujumchin Choboolong Iron-Zinc-Multimetal Mine is suspended from operation under the interventions of State Environmental Bureau and the Environmental Bureau of Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region. Because of the violation of “Environmental Protection and Management Provision for Development Projects”, the Autonomous Region Environmental Bureau decides to impose an administrative penalty on the mine.

State Environmental Protection Bureau interviews with Guangming Daily and Economic Daily

November 2001

First part “Grassland Protection Law One-volume Edition” is published. The project is proposed by us, sponsored by Ms. Cheng Xiao Lu, and published by Beijing National Publishing House.

“Grassland Law Series”
(First Part)

December 2001

Ujumchin Left Banner Paper Mill sewage dam bursts, and more than ten herder households’ 15,000 Mu (1000 hectare) grassland is flooded with sewage water.

Document, VCD

February 2002

900 copies of Mongolian language legal education book are delivered to Ujumchin Left Banner pastoral areas with the sponsoring of friends Hai Kuan and Xiao Lu, who formerly were “educate youth”.


March 1, 2002

Ujumchin Left Banner’s herders send a joint letter for grassland protection to news media in Beijing. (See attachment 2: Herders’ Joint Letter, original in Mongolian).   


March 27, 2002

Premier Zhu Rong-ji speaks to Inner Mongolian representatives at the People’s Congress: Inner Mongolian economic development must fully take advantage of its favorable natural condition for animal husbandry to develop animal husbandry related international standard modern processing industries, and must not put emphasis on ambiguous industrial development and redundant constructions. ( see People’s Daily and Inner Mongolia Daily reports on March 8, 2002).

Premier Zhu Rong-ji’s speech  

April 2002

Choboolong Iron-Zinc-Multimetal Mine occupies Baljuur and other herders’ contracted grassland to build houses and open up mines. Lawyers from “Center for Legal Assistance to Chinese Pollution Victims”, along with former “educate youths” of Ujumchin Left Banner visit the grassland to investigate. “Friends of Nature” pays close attention to Inner Mongolian environmental issues and proposes the “Wild Horses Return to the Grassland” environmental education project.


April 8, 2002

CCTV reports: “Educated youth” website’s appeal for protection of grassland calls attention of Legal Assistance Center for Pollution Victims at Beijing University of Politics & Law and the center decides to provide victimized herders with volunteer legal assistance. (April 8, 2002).

CCTV website

May 2002

The website plans to print the second part of Mongolian-Chinese bilingual version of “Legal Handbook for Farmers and Herders Use”, and asks for assistance from the Legal Committee under the Inner Mongolian People’s Congress, National Language Translation Bureau under Central Government, and editors and translators with National Publishing House. Under the support from online friends and financial assistance from Beijing De Huan Law Firm and Mr. Mo Hua of Aerospace 35 Station, Beijing National Publishing House publishes the handbook.

“Grassland Law Series”
(Second Part)

May 27 – June 1, 2002

The website’s former “educated youth” cooperate with “Friends of Nature’s” “wild horse” mobile workshop vehicle to visit Ujumchin Left  Banner’s two Soms to carry out environmental education activities and lecture to heads and secretaries of Gachaas. 500 copies of “Legal Handbook for Farmers and Herders Use” are distributed among Ujumchin Left Banner herders, Gachaa heads, Gachaa secretaries, and people’s representatives Banners.

About Wild Horse vehicle

Friends of Nature

June 2002

The website’s former “educated youths” guide Ujumchin Left Banner herders to meet with “Friends of Nature” to report the paper mill pollution, contact to hire lawyers in Beijing as legal representatives, and sign on contracts on behalf of the herders. Mr. Liang Congjie reports on the grassland environmental problem to State Environmental Bureau and Central Government through Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.


June 2002

“Legal Assistance Center for Chinese Pollution Victims” again sends lawyers to Ujumchin Left Banner’s Mand Som to complete the written complaint and sign on the contract with herders.


Mid-June 2002

State Environmental Bureau sends investigation team and Guangming Daily correspondents to Ujumchin Left Banner to investigate industrial pollution problems, and give an on-the-spot order to the paper mill to stop production. However, the paper mill resumes its operation and continues to drain sewage right after the investigation team left.


July 2002

Along with our members, Beijing “Friends of Nature” Wild Horse Mobile Educational Workshop Vehicle visits Ujumchin Left Banner again and carries out educational activities.


July 2002

Our members guide “Green Beijing” environmental study group to Left Ujumchin Banner, and speak with herders. We rent Mand Som herders’ 4 jeeps for part of the trip and the whole journey is 5,000 kilometers. Witnessing Ujumchin Left Banner grassland pollution, we took samples from the sewage and brought them to Beijing Academy of Environmental Science. It proves that the paper mill’s sewage pollution is extremely high.

Dr. Yi Cheng Long’s article


Document photo

August 1, 2002

Our website helps herder to pay for the retainer, and Shiliin-gol League People’s Intermediate Court accepts the herders’ lawsuit against Choboolong Iron-Zinc-Mltimetal Mine’s illegal occupation of herders’ contracted grassland. Legal Assistance Center for Chinese Pollution Victims’ lawyer becomes plaintiff’s attorney.


August 8, 2002

Shiliin-gol League People’s Intermediate Court hears Ujumchin Left Banner herders’ complaint against the paper mill’s pollution in the grassland, and Beijing De Heng Law Firm lawyer works as plaintiff’s attorney.


September 2002

Officials of Ujumchin Left Banner and Shiliin-gol League pay attention to the case and send personnel to herders to mediate the dispute.


End of September 2002

CCTV “Today’s Legal Matters” correspondents visit Ujumchin Left Banner Paper Mill to interview.

CCTV “Today’s Legal Matters)

Beginning of October 2002

Inner Mongolian Standing Committee member and the paper mill owner visit Beijing to lobby to “Today’s Legal Matters” correspondents and other units.


October 15, 2002

Ujumchin Left Banner Government Document (No.88, in Mongolian) asks Mand-bulag Som herders to accept 220,000 yuan as compensation and give up for the grassland that was already occupied by the Iron-Zinc Mine. Herders refuse to accept.

Photo copy

November 12, 2002

Local government sends personnel to Beijing.


November 15, 2002

head of Ujumchin Left Banner decides to take over 7583 Mu (505 hectare) basic grassland as state owned land and give it to Choboolong Iron-Zinc Mine to use (No.24 Document, in Mongolian). Under the tremendous pressure, Mand-bulag Som’s plaintiff agrees drop the lawsuit against the company.

Photo copy

November 16, 2002

Beijing’s former “educated youth” mark 35th anniversaries of living and working in the countryside of Mand-bulag in  mark 35 anniversary of Ujumchin Left Banner Mand-bulag 505 hectare) basic grassland as state ownership land and give it to ChobUjumchin Left Banner. Three Gachaa leaders from the Banner attend the event, and the former “educated youth” donate 3 computers, Mongolian version of legal and environmental education books, and Video CDs to the herders.


December 16, 2002

Ujumchin Left BannerGovernment issues an official document to withdraw the plaintiff (of paper mill and herders’ case) herders’ right to manage the grassland.

Photo copy

December 2002

Ujumchin Left BannerEnkh-jargal Gachaa’s secretary Mr. Soyolt is dismissed from post because of his support for herders to protect their legal rights.

Letter of appeal (English version) (Chinese version)

December 27, 2002

Ujumchin Left Banner Party Committee and Banner Government jointly hold a meeting to take over Enkh-jargal Gachaa’s herders’ contracted grassland of 10,730 Mu (715 hectare), and alter its ownership and turn it to the paper mill to use. Some herders were forced to drop their lawsuits against the company.

Chinese version

Photo copy (Mongolian version)

January 20,2003

State Department’s “Notice Regarding Environmental Pollution Case Investigations in Some Areas” (State Department 2003 No.4 issue) …

(3) Case of transferring pollutions to western areas. Protecting and improving western regions’ environment and preventing environmentally harmful industries, technologies, and equipment from transferring to western regions are an extremely important requirement and task. However, some areas, just for short term profit, are victimizing environment to transfer pollutions to western areas … Bulag Mining Company and Dianhua Paper Mill jointly run by Shiliin-gol League’s Ujumchin Left Banner, Shandong Province, and Hebei Province, without pollution treatment equipment, directly polluted grassland, and brought serious damage to local eco-system. The above mentioned enterprises have already been suspended from production by the local government to adjust themselves within a certain timeframe.

Jiang Xi Province People’s Government website

March 11, 2003

Ujumchin Left Banner Paper Mill sewage again flood into grassland and causes herder Mr. Urtuu’s 67 sheep’s deaths.


March 14, 2003

CCTV “Today’s Legal Matters” program reports about Ujumchin Left BannerPaper Mill’s grassland pollution case.

 CCTV “Today’s Legal Matters) (3.14)

March 22-28, 2003


“Echoing Steppe – Inner Mongolian Natural Environment and Nomadic Culture Exhibition” is held at Beijing National Culture Palace.

Sponsor: Friends of Nature, UN Education and Science Organization, China’s “Human and Biosphere” National Committee, National Cultural Palace Exhibition Center.

Cosponsor: Museum of Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region.

Activities: exhibition at Beijing National Cultural Palace.

Lecturers: Enkhe, Dalantai, Jing-ai, Liu Shu-run, Chen Zuo-zhong, Shen Xiao-hui, Chen Xiong-fei, Hao Bing.

Conference: “Feasibility of Developing An Eco-Culture Protection Zone in Shiliin-gol League” (Chinese Academy of Science, March 24).

Grassland Evening Discussion: (March 24, Chinese Academy of Science).

online exhibition

experts' lecture

herder’s speech

photo of activities

March 22, 2003

“Legal Handbook for Farmers and Herders Use” (Mongolian version) Third Part is published by National Publishing House. Sponsored by Beijing De Heng Law Firm. 100 copies are given out to Ujumchin Left Banner herders and cadres who came to the exhibition. Our website publishes online “Grassland Law” Mongolian version.

“Grassland Law Series”
(Second Part)

Mongolian version “Grassland Act”

March 22, 2003

Children’s book for herders’ kids: “Checheg’s Story”(Mongolian and Chinese bilingual edition). Heinrich Boll Foundation sponsored. 700 copies are distributed to schools through Ujumchin Left Banner Educational Bureau.

Online books

April 2, 2003

Shiliin-gol People’s Intermediate Court hears Ujumchin Left Banner’s herders’ complaint against Ujumchin Left Banner Paper Mill’s occupation and pollution of grassland.


April 4, 2003

People’s Daily publishes an article titled “Grassland, how can we keep you green?”

People’s Daily article

April 4, 2003

People’s Daily publishes an article titled “We can’t go the old way of ‘man-made desert’ again”.

People’s Daily article

June, 2003

A herder of Mand-bulag in Ujumchin Left Banner reports over the phone: more than 10,000 Mu (6.7 hectare ) contracted grassland around the upper reaches of Shilingol River is still  being occupied and cultivated.

Photo copy

June, 2003

Elected Gachaa Leader and the herders in Bayan-uul Gacha , Mandu Sumu of  Ujumchin Left Banner clears out more than 50,000 heads of livestock of non-contractors based on the “Grassland Act”.


June 16, 2003

The heads of Ujumchin Left Banner and Shiliin-gol League Environmental Protection Bureau visit Beijing and hold conference with Guangming Daily reporters and former educated youths to express that “they have already rethought profoundly about environmental issues during industrial economic development, and have taken effective countermeasures to make a comprehensive adjustment”.


June 25, 2003

Office of the Ujumchin Left Banner people’s government’s “Announcement of Matters Regarding Strengthening the Wu-Ba Line and Bulag-Bayanhuv Line Highway Construction Land Use Works” is issued.

Photo copy second page

July 26, 2003

“Conference on Inner Mongolian Grassland Protection and Use and Industrial Development and the protection of Ujumchin Left Banner’s Natural Grassland” is held in Beijing


August 20, 2003

Guangming Daily publishes an article titled “The grassland turns to a lake”.

China Youth Daily online version

August 20, 2003

Liu Jian, vice minister of the Agricultural Ministry, points out that the violation of land rights of farmers has become a prominent issue.

China Youth Daily online version

September 2003

5 leaders from Ujumchin Left Banner, including the secretary and the head of the Banner, leave Ujumchin Left Banner upon work assignment.

Shiliin-gol Daily

November 5, 2003

Inner Mongolian Ujumchin Left Banner Iron-Zinc-Multimetal Mine sewage dam bursts again.

“Green Beijing” photo report on the case

January 2004

4,000 copies of “Legal Handbook for Farmers and Herders Use, Part 4” (in Mongolian)” are published by the Beijing National Publishing House, sponsored by “Nutuge Forum” online friends, and distributed among the Mongolian speaking agricultural and pastoral areas nationwide through volunteers to promote legal education.

Legal handbook

March 11, 2004

On March 11, 2004, Shiliin-gol League Intermediate Court settles the Ujumchin Left Banner Paper Mill case which was placed on file for persecution on August 8, 2002. The court orders the Ujumchin Left Paper Mill and the third party to pay 260,000 yuan (30,000 US dollar) to the plaintiff (herders) for pollution losses. On March 24, the court decision is delivered to the plaintiff (herders).

Shiliin-gol League Intermediate Court Ruling

April 5, 2004

Plaintiff (herders) refuses to accept the court ruling and authorizes their attorney to appeal to Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region Higher People’s Court.

Letter of Appeal

June 5, 2004

Plaintiff attorney (Beijing De-heng Law Firm) pays 28,700 yuan (3376 US dollars) as second instance costs to Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region Higher People’s Court.


June 26, 2004

Why has not the “Collective Grassland Ownership Certificate” been issued to some Gachaas of Ujumchin Left Banner since 1998?

Record of Investigation

July 1, 2004

Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region Higher People’s Court (No.1 Civil Court) hears the Ujumchin Left Banner herders’ lawsuit against the paper mill’s pollution and right violation. 


August 30, 2004

The second instance ruling of the pollution case by Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region Higher People’s Court is delivered to the plaintiff (herders). The court orders the defendant to pay 280,000 yuan (33,000 US dollars) to the plaintiff as compensation of pollution losses.

Court Ruling

October 10, 2004

Herders’ phone call: Ujumchin Left Banner Government issues “Collective Grassland Ownership Certificate” to Mand Gachaa, Mand Som.

“Collective Grassland Certificate”

November 6, 2004

Herders’ phone call: Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region Higher People’s Court’s ruling on 360,000 yuan (45,000 US dollars) compensation has still not been implemented even though the court ordered the defendant and third party to pay this compensation to the plaintiff within 10 days starting from August 9, 2004.


November 23, 2004

Hulun-boir Daily publishes Liu Shu-run’s article titled “Is Nomadic Civilization Outmoded?” in Mongolian.


November 26, 2004

Herders’ phone call: they receive 180,000 yuan (21,000 US dollars) as compensation.


December 19, 2004

“The Nation’s Largest Open-up Zone Is Set Up In The Grassland: Lack of Appropriate Procedure Causes Severe Damage To The Environment” by Xin-hua News Huhhot.

Xin-hua Net

Map of Ulgai





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