Category Archives: Inner Mongolia

“China moves long-missing Mongolian dissident to “luxury resort”

After the “vacation-style therapy” claims we heard a few months ago it looks like the Chinese government wants to outdo itself in terms of bizarre imprisonment classifications:

China has moved a prominent ethnic Mongolian rights activist to a “luxury resort”, a rights group said on Thursday, in the first account of his whereabouts in more than a year since he was put under house arrest.

Hada, who like many ethnic Mongolians in China uses a single name, was tried in China’s vast northern Inner Mongolia region in 1996 and jailed for 15 years for separatism, spying and supporting the Southern Mongolian Democratic Alliance, which seeks greater rights for ethnic Mongolians.

He was released in December 2010 and then had to serve a separate sentence, “four years of deprivation of political rights”, Tao Jian, the deputy Communist Party boss of Inner Mongolia’s law and order committee, said in March.

Haschuluu told the group that Hada was in poor health and had rejected an offer to go free along with family members in exchange for signing a paper that would be tantamount to admitting wrongdoing.

Hada’s wife, Xinna, who has denied her husband is a separatist, was jailed for three years in April for “engaging in illegal business”, the group said.

“This is a completely trumped-up charge used by the authorities to have the family cooperate and keep them quiet,” Enghebatu Togochog at the SMHRIC said in emailed comments to Reuters.

Xinna was living in her rented warehouse with her son, Uiles, in Hohhot, the capital of Inner Mongolia, because their house had been confiscated, the group said, citing Haschuluu.

Chinese authorities had offered Xinna and Uiles good jobs, nice cars, a luxury house and a special offer of a “beautiful girlfriend” to Uiles if they cooperated with the authorities, or risk arrest, detention and imprisonment, the group said.

Hanshuulan, Xinna’s mother, told SMHRIC that they had rejected the offer.

Do you think they actually had a girl on hand for this offer, or were they just going to go around China trying to find a ‘beautiful’ girl who wouldn’t mind dating the son of a prominent Mongolian dissident? How is that deal supposed to work?

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“Ethnic Mongolians in China concerned about cultural threat”

Eunice Yoon and Chi Chi Zhang at CNN have a story about Inner Mongolia, which had been relatively quiet this year until the protest last week:

“As a kid, everyone rode horses to herd sheep, but now we only see motorcycles” the 68-year old says, as he lights a cigarette. He reveals a toothy smile that carves even deeper wrinkles into his weathered skin. “We learned to ride when we could walk.”

Baocheng, who like most Mongolians goes by one name, has witnessed many changes around the street where he runs an antiques shop. This was once a trading area for livestock in downtown Hohhot, capital of China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous region.

But ethnic Mongolians complain their nomadic lifestyle is being threatened. Though some have been handed government subsidies, others have reported being forced to move from grasslands into brick apartments in cities like Hohhot.

The threat to traditional Mongolian culture, which includes allegations of illegal land seizures, has led to an uptick in protests in recent years. According to the New York-based Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center, repeated appeals have been made to the government to protect the nomadic culture from activities such as mining in this resource-rich country.

The group said at least 22 ethnic Mongolians were detained earlier this month after hundreds clashed with police during a protest against land seizures.

“Mongolians have peacefully led a nomadic lifestyle for centuries so we need to ask why it’s being threatened now?” says Nars, the lead singer of Anda Union, a Mongolian throat-singing band. “It’s important to prevent desertification, but at what cost? Why is this happening now and what other solutions are there?”

Rapid development and the spread of China’s dominant Han population to minority regions, has meant that ethnic Mongolians only make up about 17% of the region’s 24 million population, according to China’s National Bureau of Statistics. Like Tibetans and Uighurs from the restive of Xinjiang region, experts say an underlying tension exists between ethnic Mongolians and Han people.

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“Inner Mongolians Escalate Land Protest”

RFA has the details on a second protest in Inner Mongolia over the last week:

About 40 farmers and villagers from Tulee Gachaa in the Naiman banner (county) in eastern Inner Mongolia demonstrated in front of government offices in the banner’s capital Daachintal (in Chinese, Daxintale) on Tuesday, the Southern Mongolia Human Rights Information Center said in a statement.

The protesters demanded the Naiman authorities release the 22 protesters detained in Monday’s violent protest in the village and return 60,000 mu (10,000 acres) of farmland they say has been expropriated by the government-backed company and left lying idle for years.

The protesters chanted slogans and displayed a sign that said, in Mongolian and Chinese, “The detention is illegal; Release the detainees; Return our land,” SMHRIC said.

“If the Mongol farmers would discuss this with us, maybe we could resolve the problem, but they have not agreed to this so far,” he told RFA’s Uyghur service Wednesday.

But SMHRIC claimed local government officials had met with five of the protester’s representatives on Wednesday evening, proposing to release the detainees if the protesters went home silently and signed promises to stop opposing the land expropriation.

The protesters refused, sending a message to SMHRIC that said, “We are determined not to halt our protest until the government releases all detainees, compensates our losses, punishes those who beat the protesters, and returns our land to us.”

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“China detains 22 after Inner Mongolia protest”

The Southern Mongolian Human Rights Center is carrying a story about more arrests in Inner Mongolia following a protest:

Over 80 heavily armed police with more than 30 police vehicles dispatched from the Naiman Banner Public Security Bureau came to Tulee Gachaa and brutally beat up the local Mongolians who were attempting to stop a Xing Long Gao Forestry bulldozer from turning over their farmland. Twenty two protesters were arrested and taken away by police, 5 were seriously injured.

Chenfuulong, one of the organizers of the protest, told the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center (SMHRIC) over the phone that the local Mongolians have been protesting against the Chinese company’s illegal occupation of lands belonging to Tulee Gachaa since last year.

“The protest concerns a 60,000 mu (about 10,000 acres) area of land that was illegally occupied by Xing Long Gao Forestry for several years,” Chenfuulong explains the background of the land expropriation, “since last year, they stopped managing the forestry. It should be returned to the legitimate owners of the land, the Mongolians of Tulee Gachaa. Now they are trying to continue to occupy our land.”

According to Chenfuulong, the Mongolians organized themselves and protested in front of different level of government including the Tongliao Municipality Government and the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region Government during the past several months for a just resolution. They even sent four representatives to Beijing to attempt to urge the Central Government to address their grievance in a just manner in March of this year.

“I narrowly escaped arrest. They raided my home and confiscated my motorcycle,” Chenfuulong describes the conflict scene, “police violently beat up the protesters with batons; some were bleeding, some were beaten down on the ground; women were pulled by their hair and thrown into police vehicles.” Chenfuulong mentioned that his brother Chenfuudee was also among the 22 detainees.

Another Mongolian witness who asked not to be identified provided SMHRIC with a partial list of the detainees. They are Haschuluu, Shuanzuur, Gowaa, Baochuan, Meirong, Baodee, and Chenfuudee.

“Both parents of some families were taken away and their young kids left unattended. For example, Shuanzuur and Gowaa are husband and wife, and their five year old daughter was left crying at home with no one’s care,” he described the rising tension, “police cars are still patrolling the village and more crack down is expected.”

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“Call for Inner Mongolian Activist’s Release”

As low as interest in Xinjiang ranks compared to Tibet, Inner Mongolia seems to be even lower somehow. Still, groups like the SMHRC are pressing for the release of Hada, still imprisoned a year after his 15 year sentence technically ended:

In China’s northern region of Inner Mongolia, Chinese authorities continue to hold ethnic Mongolian dissident Hada beyond his scheduled release and have detained his wife and son, relatives and rights groups said.

Hada, 55, was scheduled for release last December after serving 15 years for “separatism” because he led a nonviolent campaign for Inner Mongolian independence from Chinese rule.

But instead he has been held in a “secret location” on the outskirts of Hohhot, the capital of China’s Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region, the US-based Southern Mongolian Human Rights Center (SMHRIC) said in a statement Saturday.

Ahead of Hada’s scheduled release last December, authorities shut down the family’s Mongolian Studies Bookstore and detained his wife, Xinna, and son, Uiles.

Hada’s sister-in-law, Naraa, told the told SHMHRIC that local public security officials were not pleased that Hada would not cooperate with them.

“They said Hada is not cooperating with them at all. They shook their heads and said that Hada is an almost hopelessly stubborn man,” she said.

She said that his 15 years of detention did not bend his will, “And obviously one more year of softer measures are not working either,” Naraa told SMHRIC.

In May, the killing of a herdsman in a standoff with mining company employees triggered large-scale protests by herders and students across Inner Mongolia, putting a spotlight on ethnic tensions in the region.

In the wake of the protests, China poured large numbers of troops into the region and enforced a security lock-in at schools, universities, and government institutions.

Official documents described the protests by thousands of ethnic Mongols in the region’s major cities as the work of “external hostile forces,” although it made no mention of where those forces originated.

Mongols are a recognized ethnic minority in China and number around 6 million according to government statistics.

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“Fresh Protest by Mongolian Herders, Dozens Hospitalized”

Is this just an unusually bad summer as far as Chinese land grabs go, or has the Mongolian population of Inner Mongolia experienced a sudden onset of severe ethnic solidarity? Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center reports that there’s been yet another protest:

A fresh protest by Mongolian herders erupted in Southern (Inner) Mongolia’s Bairin Right Banner (“Ba Lin You Qi” in Chinese) Sharmurun Som (“Xi La Mu Lun Su Mu” in Chinese) on July 18, 2011. More than 1000 Mongolian herders protested against the local government for allowing a Chinese millionaire surnamed Sui to illegally grab a large piece of their grazing land for cultivation. Reportedly, Sui hired more than 200 Chinese to kill dozens of livestock with their heavy vehicles and bulldozers and to beat up local Mongolian herders who resisted her occupation of their land.

Mr.Baatar, a local herder, was brutally beaten up by these Chinese on the morning of July 18, while he was tending his sheep on his grazing land. According to his wife Ms.Yintoor, with a broken skull and serious brain injuries Baatar was taken to a hospital in Tianshan Township of the neighboring Ar-Horchin Banner. After a four-day emergency treatment, Baatar is still in critical condition. Dozens others were hospitalized at the Bairin Right Banner Hospital. The health condition of the hospitalized remains unknown.

Government officials of Sharmurun Som and Bairin Right Banners were called to an urgent meeting to quell the protest. Nearly three hundreds riot police and government officials were dispatched by the Som and Banner governments to crack down on the protest.

“I was on the scene. Angry herders protested strongly against those Chinese thugs hired by Sui to kill the livestock grazing on the land,” a Mongolian from the Sharmurun Som who asked not to be identified confirmed to SMHRIC over the phone and expressed his strong support to the herders, “it is a natural response of anyone to resist when someone occupies your land, kills your livestock and beats you up.”

Mongolian bloggers called on Mongols to stand up against the Chinese to defend their rights in the face of tightened Internet censorship by the authorities whose main concern is to prevent widespread dissemination of information. Many bloggers called for large-scale protests to demand the Chinese authorities to punish those Chinese who violated the rights of the Mongols.

“After the death of Mr. Mergen that ignited the large scale protests in May, this is another serious case in which again Mongolian herders risked their lives for defending their land,” an online appeal letter rallied the Mongolians to protest in solidarity, “we have been impoverished; we have lost our lands to the Chinese; we have been plundered of our natural resources; our livestock are perishing; many of us have become homeless on our own lands. We are treated with no dignity. We must stand up to defend our human rights rather than being silently killed by the Chinese army”.

“Bairin Right Banner is home to more than 80,000 Mongolians most of whom are herders,” Mr. Tumenulzii Buyanmend, a well-known dissident writer from Bairin Right Banner who went into exile in Mongolia and arrived in the United States recently said during an interview with SMHRIC, “I call on our fellow Bairin Mongolians as well as Mongolian brothers and sisters from other banners across Southern Mongolia to launch a long-term large-scale nonviolent resistance movement to defend their rights.”

Good luck. To date this week: a protest/attack in Xinjiang by the Uyghur, continuing protests in Sichuan, Qinghai, and Tibet by Tibetans, and now this in Inner Mongolia. Anyone want to claim that the relationship between Beijing and the ethnic minorities isn’t deteriorating?

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“China Offers Mongolia $500 Million Loan in Return for a Promise to Deny Sanctuary to Inner Mongolians?”

SMHRIC has been following the aftermath of last months Inner Mongolian protests. There was another round of herder protests last week, and now they’re reporting that China may be trying to buy the assistance of the Republic of Mongolia:

Prime Minister of Mongolia S. Batbold just returned from a visit to the People’s Republic of China. During his visit, the Prime Minister entered into an agreement with the southern neighbor in which Mongolia would receive a $500 Million loan. According to a source the agreement was discussed as early as 2002 when the Chinese Communist Party leader Hu Jintao paid an official visit to Mongolia. At that time, however, the amount was 300 million USD. The $300 million loan was proposed for the development of Mongolia as a gesture of friendly relationship with Mongolia from the Government of China and the Chinese people, and the Chinese side expressed their happiness and satisfaction with the agreement. However, according to the source, behind the $500 million loan there appeared to be a hidden agenda by the Chinese leaders. A reliable source confirmed that seven different conditions were given to the Mongolian authorities by Hu Jintao for this deal.

Among these conditions, one was related to Southern (Inner) Mongolians. Recently widespread unrest and tensions have escalated on the territory of Southern Mongolia. As Southern Mongolians strongly demand freedom and independence today, reportedly a tough request was given to our Prime Minister by the Chinese authorities. It was a request to guarantee that Mongolia will not accept Southern Mongolians and grant any legal residency. In response to a further request to deport all Southern Mongolians seeking asylum in Mongolia back to China, government leaders of Mongolia at the time, in particular, the Minister of Justice and Interior Ts. Nyamdorj worked actively to submit a recommendation to the Government of Mongolia for deporting Southern Mongolians back to China. Yet J. Baatar, then the head of the General Intelligence Agency of Mongolia, opposed the plan by stating that “we are not yet in a position to wash our hands with the blood of our brothers.”

I don’t like that parts of this apparently come down to a single source- but there’s no denying that it would be the exact same play China made in Nepal. File this one under “likely, but unconfirmed” for now.

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“China: The environmental and cultural harm to Inner Mongolia’s grasslands”

Guardian writer Jonathan Watts recently took a trip to Inner Mongolia; he blogs about some of what he saw here.

Chinese riot police were reportedly dragging off protesting herders while I was blithely listening to karaoke on the Inner Mongolian grasslands this week.

I was unaware of the trouble, though I was on a family holiday in the same northern region. This is not entirely surprising given the vastness of an area that covers more than a million square kilometres and the ruthlessness of a censorship regime that blocks websites and locks up individuals for emailing images of protests. But even from the perspective of a holidaymaker, I could see why the changes in the region – particularly to the environment – might spark unrest.

I chose Manzhouli – close to China’s border with Mongolia (the country) and Russia – for a summer break because its grasslands are supposed to be tranquil, cool, sparsely populated and extremely beautiful. I should have realised, though, it would not turn out as expected.

Instead of a secluded Mongolian camp, we ended up in a complex of concrete yurts with a karaoke machine, firework display and bonfire disco that blasted out techno music across the starlit steppe. I was at first dismayed, then resigned. On the bright side, it was funny in a not-at-all-like-the-brochure sort of way. Not so amusing was the reduction of Mongolia culture to a series of song-and-dance shows and the evident deterioration of the environment.

At this time of year, locals said the grass was usually lush green and knee high. But amid a severe drought, the blades were yellowing and barely reached my ankles. Some areas had already turned to desert and several nearby lakes had dried up so completely that their beds were cracked and white with salt deposits. One herder told me he would soon have to buy fodder – unthinkable in past summers. His concerns appeared unlikely to make ripples; Timber yards and open cast pits suggested the local economy is now dependent on mining and the processing of logs imported from Siberia.

It is a similar story across much of Inner Mongolia. In recent years, the region has become China’s leading producer of coal and rare earths as well as the doorway to Russia (and the biggest timber trade in the world). This has attracted an influx of Han businessmen. Meanwhile, the traditional nomadic lifestyle has come under multiple assault from open-cast mining, over-grazing, enclosed farming, migration and global warming.

It would be nice if Communist Party leaders could make a trip to Inner Mongolia themselves- maybe then they would see that the problems there aren’t actually being caused by “foreign enemies,” but rather by much more domestic factors.

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“Many Detained, Some Fled After Protests in Southern Mongolia”

It’s been a while since the last update from Inner Mongolia. As predicted, the authorities are using every tool at their disposal to disappear some people and intimidate the rest- essentially a punitive campaign to make the Mongols pay for the protests. SMHRIC has more:

Many Mongolians have been arrested, detained and beaten during and after the large-scale region-wide protest sparked by the brutal killing of a Mongolian herder named Mergen in Southern (Inner) Mongolia’s Shiliin-gol League.

Even though the tension between the Mongolians and the Chinese authorities has eased, martial law is still in effect in most parts of Shiliin-gol League and other major cities including the regional capital Hohhot.

“The authorities are still on high alert here,” a resident of Hohhot, the regional capital, told SMHRIC through an email message, “in some places presence of paramilitary and riot police is even heavier than before.”

“The situation is still tense here, and police and paramilitary forces are patrolling the streets,” a herder in Shuluun Huh Banner told SMHRIC over the phone yesterday, “at least 31 people are still being held in our Shuluun Huh Banner alone for trying to break the barricade to let high school students join the protest.”

“These young Mongolians will most probably be given harsh punishments because the authorities are accusing them of engaging in sabotage,” the herder added.

According to eyewitnesses and family members of the detainees in Huveet Shar Banner, the detained herders are still been held in detention and have been severely beaten by riot police and military forces.

The latest information the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center (SMHRIC) has received confirms that a hundred or more protesters including students, high school teachers, college professors, herders and ordinary residents have been arrested, detained and beaten by the Chinese authorities in connection with the large-scale demonstration. Most of them are still being held in detention.

They also have pictures from a Mongolian Buddhist religious ceremony that took place- take a look:

This is the kind of ‘religion at the point of a gun’ that I’ve heard people complaining about a lot. Arjia Rinpoche related that during the ceremony to ‘pick’ the Chinese-backed Panchen Lama, the Jhokhang Temple in Lhasa was filled with heavily-armed policemen, some of whom were wearing red monks robes. Note to Beijing: you can talk about freedom of religion all you want, but until you can have religious ceremonies without that many armed police or soldiers there to intimidate the monks, people are still going to be very skeptical.

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Filed under China, enforced disappearance, ethnic conflict, Inner Mongolia, intimidation

An Interview between Arjia Rinpoche and The China Hotline: “Why Inner Mongolia? Why now?”

As protests spread across Inner Mongolia, I wondered about who might be able to answer some questions on the subject. One consequence of the lower visibility of Inner Mongolian issues is that there are far fewer activists in the spotlight than there are for Tibet or even Xinjiang. I reached out to Arjia Rinpoche, and was delighted to find that the Rinpoche himself and his staff were willing to give me some of their time.

Arjia Rinpoche was born in 1950 to an ethnically Mongolian nomadic family in Qinghai province. At a young age he was identified as the reincarnation of the former abbot of Kumbum Monastery, a major monastery near Xining that is renowned as one of the six great Gelugpa Tibetan Buddhist institutions. This privileged position made him a natural target during the tumultuous Mao years, however, and he would spend 16 years in a labor camp before being released in the 1980s. He returned to find Kumbum in ruins and dedicated years to rebuilding it before finally choosing to escape to the United States and live in exile. Since then he has run the Tibetan and Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center in Bloomington, Indiana, and released an autobiography entitled ‘Surviving the Dragon’ two years ago.

TCH: Inner Mongolia has generally been much less restive than Tibet and Xinjiang for the last few decades. Why do you think these protests are happening now?

Arjia Rinpoche:  The situations in Tibet and Inner Mongolia have much in common. In the 50s, there were many conflicts and confrontations. The Inner Mongolian People’s Party at that time aggressively sought for independence. However, the Communists really cracked down then and accused them of being “Counter Revolutionaries.” They managed to sabotage the movement by taking some of the leaders of the protesters and promoting them to Chinese leadership.

After this turbulent period, things seem to have quieted down, but Inner Mongolians were still restive. Then two things heated up the pot: a) the resettlement plan whereby 20 million (I think that’s the number) Han Chinese settled in Mongolia and caused Mongols to be a minority and b) the Mongolian Autonomous Region was carved up into 7 prefectures that were controlled by the Chinese, thereby making Mongols unable to hold any power. Their energies were reduced and they seemingly became quiet.

Now with [the killing of Mongolian herdsman] Mergen, the pot has boiled over. Long-held grievances have come out in the open and caused the protests to become very active. The Mongols want to protect their culture and their environment.

TCH:  You called for Mongolians to refrain from further protests- what is the best way for them to move forward?

Arjia Rinpoche:  I am not against protests, but they have to be planned very carefully in advance. The spontaneous ones usually don’t succeed. It is important to have a non-violent protest that is not around the time of sensitive dates such as June 4 (Tiananmen Square) and other Chinese holidays

TCH:  In your life you have seen China go through many changes. How hopeful are you that conditions in China will improve over the coming years?

Arjia Rinpoche:  China is definitely changing because of the economic transformation; however, the control of the communist regime is stronger than ever. Even though there are many improvements, there is no freedom and crackdowns are harsh and violent and very common. The central government wants to control everything, particularly the minorities and especially with issues dealing with the Muslims and His Holiness [the Dalai Lama] and Christianity. However, even the “regular” Chinese people are becoming very dissatisfied with this measure of control. All we can do is wait and hope.

TCH:  Your staff informed me that you are traveling through Mongolia- how close are the bonds between Mongolians in China and in Mongolia? Is there much interaction between the two groups?

Arjia Rinpoche:  There is little or no interaction. Mongolians in the free republic find the situation to be too sensitive and try their best to avoid any political issues. I, myself, will be aware of this sensitivity during my present trip and will concentrate my efforts solely on charitable and religious matters.

TCH:  Is there anything else you think foreigners should know about the situation in Inner Mongolia today?

Arjia Rinpoche:  They should know the history and they should be well aware of the complexity of the issues and particularly of the intent of the Chinese Communists to maintain total control.

I would like to thank Rinpoche and his staff for their cooperation. I hope readers and the internet at large find his answers enlightening.

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“Chinese truck driver swiftly executed for killing Mongolian herder”

Well, that was fast.  Shanghaiist reports:

The Han Chinese truck driver responsible for the killing of an ethnic Mongol herdsman in Inner Mongolia that sparked the worst riots in the region in 20 years was sentenced to death yesterday.

Li Lindong was given the death penalty for running over an ethnic Mongol herdsman named Mergen (Mongols often use just one name) on May 10. Mergen was there with several others blocking the road to protest coal trucks driving through causing pollution in their grasslands. According to official police reports, Li ran over the herder and dragged his body for 145m before Mergen died.

Obviously an attempt to appease Mongolians- but I suspect it’s too little too late. The genie is out of the bottle now, and other long-held grievances ranging from unchecked Han immigration to Mongolian language preservation are being aired. Mergen’s death might have sparked the protests, but now they have a life of their own. Does the execution of a truck driver spell an end to grassland degradation, or will it revive Mongolian culture? The consequences of the last few weeks will live on, long after the riot police have left town.

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“Same Tears, Same Lives, Same People…”

High Peaks Pure Earth has another translation, this one of an older post by Tibetan writer Woeser. As they say in their foreword: “Although this article was written two years ago, many of the issues of ethnic tension and unrest within PRC still resonate today. Since 2008, protests have flared up in Tibet, Xinjiang and, most recently, in Inner Mongolia.” Quite right. Her post begins:

During the night of July 5, text messages that were sent nonstop only contained a few words: “Something has happened in Urumqi”. My heart felt really heavy because I knew what those words meant. News coming from the scene of the events appeared on the internet and was removed, again and again; action was taken quickly. Real-time blogs such as Twitter or Fanfou* followed the same pattern: news of the events became scarcer and scarcer. Some said that media used for communication such as internet or the phone were not functioning as usual in Urumqi. Here we are again, the voices coming from the people have been silenced. Here we are again, authorities have been quick to put a name on the events, and have announced: “this is violent and organised crime, it was premeditated, it was instigated and orchestrated from outside, and carried out on the mainland by special groups.”

I say “here we are again” because this is all too familiar, especially for Tibetans. All the excuses used are the same. Only names have changed: the Dalai Lama has been replaced by Rebiya, Lhasa has been converted into Urumqi, and March 14 into July 5. Both events were painstakingly planned crackdowns. Later, the ruthless repression carried out by authorities became the natural way of doing things. To make the crackdown look more rational, authorities were also quick in the use of their propaganda tools. All the reports released by the media were really similar to the documentary that was meticulously made last year in March about March 14, even comments could be reproduced.

I suspect that in Urumqi, it started with a peaceful demonstration, but ended up with beatings. This has to do with the dark role played by authorities in the event. Peaceful Uyghur demonstrators could not be as foolish as to make a mistake that could be used against them, that is follow their impulse, and act disorderly because of previous beatings. If they did that, then the same thing that happened on March 14 last year on the streets of Lhasa would be reproduced: numerous policemen undercover and secret agents mixed with protesters, took the lead in beating up, and deliberately offended demonstrators. At the same time, state media followed up, meticulously collected evidence, and then the army carried out a bloody crackdown. Such high-skilled practices are already mastered by authorities.

Again, this is the exact same strategy they are using right now in Inner Mongolia. Switch out Lhasa or Urumqi for Hohhot, the Dalai Lama or Rebiya for Hada or whichever Mongolian they want to use as a bogeyman, and print the story. They really should take pause, though: in the last 4 years, every autonomous region in western China has experienced historic levels of discontent. The status quo isn’t working, no matter how many press conferences Beijing throws blaming ‘overseas hostile forces.’

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“Witch-hunts Starts as Military Control Tightens in Southern Mongolia”

Inner Mongolia is under complete lockdown now.  Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center has the latest on the arrival of yet more riot police and the beginning of Beijing’s search for scapegoats:

Sources said that more paramilitary forces and riot police have been dispatched to the region’s critical places to prevent any mass protest or unrest. Eyewitnesses confirmed the increasingly heavy presence of military troops and police in the region are causing the public fear, especially in the regional capital Hohhot and Ulaanhad.

The US-based Radio Free Asia quoted an eyewitness, “as I got on the train at Hohhot, the place looked like it was preparing for war… there were special police everywhere wearing bulletproof vests. They were carrying automatic weapons and pointing them at the passengers in the Hohhot railway station.”

According to an article by Tian Ren, Chinese Infantry Group Army No.38, No.65, and No.27 stationed in Hebei Province and several divisions of Beijing Military Zone entered Southern Mongolia to quash the protests.

As the wide spread Mongolian protests were somewhat temporarily controlled through military in the restive Mongolian region, the Chinese authorities quickly launched a region-wide witch-hunt.

At least 40 Mongolian students and herders were arrested in Shiliin-gol League including Right Ujumchin Banner, Left Ujumchin Banner, Shuluun-huh Banner, Huveed Shar Banner, and the league capital Shiliin-hot City during the week-long protests.

Expect to hear a lot about ‘foreign hostile forces’ and the disappearances of prominent Mongolian teachers, writers, and leaders in the weeks to come.

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“China Extends Hand and Fist to Protesters”

The New York Times has a good piece up with some quotes from Mongolian locals. In line with what I said yesterday about how the current Chinese strategy is focused on the short-term, while actively sacrificing their long-term prospects:

Although news about the turmoil has been scrubbed from the Web, local Communist Party officials and the police have been painting the protesters as subversives intent on fanning ethnic disunity. Asked about the demonstrations on Tuesday, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu echoed that theme, blaming unnamed overseas forces for stirring up the trouble. “Their attempts are doomed to failure,” she said during a regular news briefing.

In interviews, some of which took place through the wrought-iron fences surrounding their campuses, several students objected to such characterizations, saying they were driven to protest by news of the death of Mergen, the shepherd killed by a coal-filled truck on May 15, and by stories about the ecological destruction wrought by Chinese-owned mines.

But their passion quickly turned to more esoteric matters: the disappearance of the region’s ancient grazing culture and pride in an identity that has been diluted by decades of migration from other parts of China.

“I’m tired of seeing my language disappear while all these banners at school shout about promoting the Mongolian tongue,” said Naranbaatar, a history student at Hohhot Nationality University who like many Mongolians uses one name.

Another student, speaking by cellphone, said students were becoming increasingly agitated. “We are not sheep or cows,” said the student, who described himself as Xiao Ming, a Chinese name. “The longer they keep us locked away, the angrier we will become.”

“Uh… maybe a foreigner did it?” is pretty played out as excuses go here.  But more importantly: sure, the public square is clear today.  Protest averted, harmony restored.  But how many of these same protesters will be even angrier when this ends?  How many Mongolians have come to understand exactly how their relationship with Beijing works?  How many apolitical students are being forced to consider their place in China while their dormitory room doubles as a detention cell?  I don’t think Zhongnanhai is doing itself any favors with this one.

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“Martial Law in Inner Mongolia, but Protests Continue”

Beijing is definitely following the Tibet Contingency now- I’ve seen a few foreigners mention that their planned trips to Inner Mongolia have been canceled because travel companies have been prohibited from bringing foreigners to the area.  I still don’t see how this can have much more of a lifespan- Mongolians are barely 20% of the population of their so-called “autonomous” province, and it seems like shipping riot police around Inner Mongolia would be much easier than moving them around the high-altitude mountain passes of Tibet.  The latest details, from the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center:

On the morning of May 30, 2011, around 11:00 AM, despite the Chinese authorities’ declaration of martial law and deployment of riot police and paramilitary forces in major cities of Southern (Inner) Mongolia, hundreds of Mongolians took to the streets of Hohhot, regional capital, to demand the rights of Mongolians and the release of detainees. Reportedly the protesters were dispersed by riot police after an hour with dozens arrested.

Some sources said nearly a thousand Mongolians, mainly ordinary residents of Hohhot city, joined the protest and marched toward the government building while authorities operated under the highest alert conditions.

An unconfirmed report from Duowei News, an overseas Chinese news agency, said a government official told its correspondent in Hohhot that fewer than 10 protesters were killed as authorities dispersed the crowd in front of the Government building. The report also stated that the Chinese authorities suspect that “foreign hostile forces” are behind the protests.

According to a Hong Kong TVB News video report in Cantonese, on May 30, additional paramilitary forces were deployed from Bogt (Baotou in Chinese) City to Hohhot to control the Mongolian protests (see the video clip below). Major colleges including the Hohhot Nationality University were placed under heavy guard and the city’s main square, the Chinggis Khan Square was sealed off.

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“Protests Spread in China’s Mongolian Region, More Cities Under Martial Law”

Again referring to the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center:

Chinese authorities have declared martial law in major cities of the Mongolian region including Hohhot, Tongliao, Ulaanhad (Chifing in Chinese), and Dongsheng in the face of mass protests by students and herders. Tight Security has been imposed as the authorities attempt to quash any protest and unrest. The Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center (SMHRIC) received new photos from Hohhot, showing police and army troops deployed to exert control over possible protesters.

According to reliable sources, despite the tight security, on May 28, 2011, hundreds of Mongolian students and herders took to the streets of eastern Southern Mongolia’s Ulaanhad (Chi Feng) City to demand the rights of the Mongolian people be respected.

“Yes, Mongolian students took to the streets of Xincheng District of Ulaanhad yesterday,” a business person near the Ulaanhad Normal School, home to thousands of Mongolian students, said.

“Some Mongolian herders from fairly long distances also joined the protest,” a Mongolian physician who asked not to be identified told SMHIRC, “but the protestors were dispersed shortly by riot police and army.”

Riot police and army troops have been dispatched to Tongliao Municipality (former Jirim League), home to the largest Mongolian population (1.5 million), where all Mongolian schools and colleges are now under heavy guard.

According to the Washington Post, the Communist Party chief of Inner Mongolia has been taking the (very) unusual step of actively getting out there and trying to assuage their concerns.  I’d assume that the arrival of riot police means that they won’t be able to coordinate many more large-scale protests, so unless something drastic happens I think it’ll probably start to peter out now.

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“Parts of Inner Mongolia “Under Marshal Law” as Protests Spread”

The Inner Mongolia situation is starting to get just a little bit of traction from mainstream sources- currently, Reuters has a piece up about the latest:

An official at the Left Ujumchin Banner, where protests took place on Thursday, also hung up on being asked about the protests. Repeated calls to the Shuluun Huh government were not answered.

“It has been in a state of siege since this morning, everything was fine here yesterday,” said a resident surnamed Zhou in Ujumchin Banner. “At the moment, police are patrolling the street.”

An official in the bus station near the government building in Left Ujumchin Banner, who refused to give her name, said all buses had stopped since the morning because of martial law.

The protests were set off by the death earlier this month of a Mongolian herder, Mergen, who was killed when he was struck by a coal truck. The government has announced the arrest of two Han Chinese for homicide, though this has failed to stem public anger.

The latest demonstrations have broadened their scope, with those taking part demanding greater official protection for their culture and traditional way of life.

Inner Mongolia, which covers more than a tenth of China’s land mass and borders Mongolia proper, is supposed to offer a high degree of self-rule.  In practice, though, Mongolians say the Han Chinese majority run the show and have been the main beneficiaries of economic development.

I think even Beijing is surprised by the scale of this one.  Things have been fairly placid in Inner Mongolia for a long time- local authorities probably aren’t used to having to call in the cavalry like this.

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“Protests Spread in Southern Mongolia, Thousands More Take to the Streets”

In an update to what we had yesterday, it looks like the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center has received pictures from a number of protests across Inner Mongolia that have taken place over the last few days, ranging from fairly small to fairly large.  Do check out the pictures- this is the largest expression of Mongolian solidarity in decades, so far as I know.

Following a series of protests in Right Ujumchin Banner and Shiliin-hot City, on May 26, 2011 local time, thousands more Mongolian herders and students took to the streets in Huveet Shar Banner (“Xiang Huang Qi” in Chinese) and Left Ujumchin Banner (“Dong Wu Qi” in Chinese) in Shiliin-gol League of Southern (Inner) Mongolia to urge the Chinese authorities to respect the Mongolian herders’ right to their land and right to maintain their traditional way of life. Protestors held the banners and posters of “defend the rights of Mongols”, “defend the homeland” and shouted slogans to march toward the Banner governments.

Again, more as events develop.

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“A Murder and Protests in Inner Mongolia”

Far less visible than their counterparts in Tibet and Xinjiang, the remaining ethnic Mongolians in the Chinese-administered province of Inner Mongolia have had an equally painful relationship with Beijing.  At ChinaGeeks, the highly-talented C.Custer rounds up and translates news related to some protests there:

“Today on Twitter I saw several interesting messages from @siweiluozi about an incident in Inner Mongolia that apparently led to rather large scale protests the past few days, with the largest being early this morning Beijing time.

What exactly were they protesting, though? I decided to dig more into it. The following is culled together from a variety of sources, and parts of all of it may not be accurate.”

A very interesting story- we’ll see what comes of it.

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