Herders protest military base, one detained for posting messages online

Herders protest military base, one detained for posting messages online
August 22, 2014
New York

Mr.Davshilt and Mr.Ganbold from Durbed Banner protesting the Chinese military training base’s occupation and destruction of their grazing land (SMHRIC)

On August 21, 2014, Mongolian herders from western Southern (Inner) Mongolia’s Durbed Banner (“si zi wang qi” in Chinese) and Sunid Right Banner (“su ni te you qi”in Chinese) protested the Zureh Military Training Base’s (“zhu ri he” in Chinese) occupation and destruction of their grazing lands.

At least twenty Mongolian herders from Sunid Right Banner were blocked by the local Chinese Public Security Bureau personnel from joining the protest. At least one Mongolian herder named Shuangping was detained yesterday for posting information including the “Grazing Land Lease and Management Certificate” on Chinese social media to rally the Mongolian herders to rise up to fight for their legal rights.

According to written communications the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center (SMHRIC) received from the affected communities, a total of 708 Mongolian herder households consisting of 2,907 individuals were forcefully relocated from their grazing lands to “immigration villages” near their respective Banner capitals. Very little compensation was given to them by the authorities.

Appropriating more than 1,066 square kilometers grazing lands from these rural Mongolian herders’ communities, the Zureh Military Training Base is China’s largest and most modern military training base directly managed by the Beijing Military Command.

According to the Chinese official press Xinhua News, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is preparing to carry out a five-nation anti-terror military exercise code-named “Peace Mission 2014” between August 24 and 29, 2014 in Zureh Military Training Base. Around 7,000 personnel from all member nations of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) including China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan and Tajikistan will carry out the exercise in an effort to quell “regional terrorism”.

“Almost everyday, tanks and fighter jets shake the earth with thunderous noises and blanket the sky with dust and smoke,” Mr. Davshilt, a leader of the local herders from Durbed Banner, told SMHRIC over the phone, “this is not only destroying our beautiful and peaceful grasslands but also seriously disturbing people and livestock alike.”

“Last year a herder who stumbled on an unexploded ordnance was killed by the blast,” Davshilt said during the interview, “livestock that cross their fences are confiscated and the owners given heavy fines.”

In an attempt to halt the military base’s destruction of their grazing lands, local herders organized themselves to carry out protests near the base multiple times and appealed to almost all level of government including the Central Government in Beijing. All appeals have been ignored and protesters were forcefully dispersed and beaten up. In March 2013, led by the Durbed Banner government officials, the local Public Security personnel arrived in the regional capital Hohhot to block the herders from travelling to Beijing, preventing them from making an appeal to the Chinese National People’s Congress. Protestors were physically assaulted by the Public Security personnel before being taken back to their homes.

“Dear displaced fellow herders from Durbed and Sunid Banners’ Zureh area, we must not tolerate this any more. We demand the Beijing Military Command respect our legal rights and pay us adequate compensation. We must continue our protest. It is possible that the State Council itself is involved in appropriating our compensation. We really need to continue our protest and appeal to higher authorities,” Davshilt rallied the herders in a video statement taken yesterday near the Zureh Military Training Base.

“Let us join together to fight for our rights!” Mr.Ganbolod, another leader from the same community said in the video statement holding his clenched fist.

The following is a list of phone numbers of the herders who are willing to speak to news media:
Gansukh: 158-4806-8307
Shuangping: 136-6479-9489
Otgonbayar: 139-4894-8781
Shinsoyol: 150-4896-7802
Ganbold: 130-8857-8187
Davshilt: 182-4740-9120

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