On the eve of the 2013 National People’s Congress in China, protests organized by Mongolian herders from multiple areas of Southern (Inner) Mongolia have been put down by the Chinese authorities. Additionally, internet posts on the events have been removed from blogs and social media.
On March 1, hundreds of Mongolian herders from Southern Mongolia’s Durbed Banner (“si zi wang qi” in Chinese) gathered at the train station of the regional capital, Hohhot, in an attempt to march toward Beijing in protest. The movement was an organized response to the ongoing governmental appropriation of their grazing land for military purposes; herders have been continuously displaced without adequate compensation.
Led by the Banner government officials, the local Public Security personnel arrived in Hohhot to stop the herders from visiting Beijing, preventing them from making an appeal to the National People’s Congress regarding their concerns. The herders were threatened and taken back to the Banner. Several were physically assaulted by the police dispatches for refusing to follow the order to return home.
According to a written communication received today by the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center (SMHRIC) from the affected herders of Durbed Banner, 1,767 Mongolian herders from 470 households have recently been displaced. They have been forced to give up their land for the expansion of the Beijing Military Command’s Zureh Military Training Base (“zhu ri he xun lian ji di” in Chinese). As the largest military training base in China, it already occupies 1,066 square kilometers of the best grassland in Southern Mongolia.