As the region-wide massive civil disobedience resistance movement continues across Chinese-occupied Southern Mongolia, desperate Chinese authorities are carrying out a full-blown crackdown through any means possible.
The Chinese Public Security authorities at all levels are carrying out coordinated mass arrests across the region. The targets include protestors, parents who refuse to cooperate with the authorities, WeChat group administrators, and individuals who spread the word about protests on the Internet.
Following wanted posters offering bounties for information leading to the arrest of hundreds of Mongolian protesters, a number of notices of arrest and detention have been issued by local public security bureaus in different parts of Southern Mongolia.
In one of these notices, the Public Security Bureau of Naiman Banner and Horchin Left Wind Middle Banner states that “17 people have been arrested in accordance with the law.” The notice says, “Some individuals spread false and harmful information on the Internet” and “viciously disrupted students’ normal schooling and created an adverse social impact.”
17 arrested for spreading “false and harmful information” on the Internet
In addition to arrest and detention, local authorities at all levels are threatening parents who continue to keep their children home with termination of employment, expulsion from their positions, confiscation of property, and cutting of social benefits.
In a written warning issued by the Office of the Bairin Right Banner Party Committee, all levels of party committees, government, and party local branches, administrative offices, civil societies, and business units are requested to have their employees send their children to school by September 7, 2020. Those who refuse to send their children will be subjected to “termination of employment and suspension of salary effective immediately starting September 8” and will be given “concentration training.”
Notices issued by the local authorities show that an increasing number of Mongolian employees with government, party, and educational affiliations who have refused to send their children to school are being removed from positions and fired from their jobs.
For instance, five Mongolian employees with government affiliations in western Southern Mongolia’s Ezen-Horoo Banner of the Ordos region have been fired for “refusing to execute the key national strategic deployment”. The local authorities said that the five’s “benefits have been revoked, and the banner’s Commission for Discipline Inspection is starting the process of thorough investigation.”
Mongolians believe that the tone of the handling of this resistance movement was already set by the Chinese Minister of Public Security Mr. Zhao Kezhi in his recent visit to Southern Mongolia. According to a Xinhua News report posted on the website of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, Zhao Kezhi emphasized that Public Security authorities must “unshakably follow the Party’s absolute leadership” and “deepen and enhance the anti-separatism struggle, seamlessly implement the anti-terrorism preventive measures, [and] firmly maintain the stability in minority and religious areas, to carry out the work of enhancing ethnic harmony.”
Despite the mass arrests and harsh punishment, the vast majority of parents are still refusing to send their children to school. Messages from eyewitnesses confirm that schools and classrooms are mostly empty, and no Mongolian school has officially started.
As the WeChat group chat feature was completely shut down in Southern Mongolia, parents are communicating with each other through individual messaging to spread the word in coded language.
“Dear fellow herders, the slaughterhouses are desperate to purchase our lambs to try to use them to make inferior products with a pork flavor. Thanks to our herders’ determination, these slaughterhouses are almost empty. Victory is on the horizon. Even people outside the country are supporting our natural and healthy way of raising lambs and criticizing the slaughterhouses’ attempts to come up with counterfeit products with pork flavor. The headquarters of the slaughterhouse is under tremendous pressure. So, please never give up.” This short written message, among others, has been circulated via private messaging.
Ms. Surnaa, an employee of Alshaa Left Banner CCP Committee, jumps from her apartment building to her death in protest of China’s new language policy (SMHRIC – 20200904)
On the morning of September 4, 2020, Ms. Surnaa, a Mongolian employee of the Alshaa Left Banner Chinese Communist Party Committee in western Southern Mongolia, jumped from her residential building to her death in protest of the Chinese authorities’ new language policy called the “second generation bilingual education”.
“My name is Altanbagan. Today, my wife jumped from her building to kill herself. With the deepest pain and sorrow, I say this is who we Mongolians are. My fellow Mongolians, this is a new round of ‘Cultural Revolution’. My dear Mongolian brothers and sisters, I just would like to say to you that we Alshaa Mongolians are as determined as Mongolians anywhere else,” Mr. Altanbagan, who is himself an employee of the Banner Party Committee, said in an audio statement via WeChat.
“I am Surnaa’s sister-in-law. Now, I am here in the hospital standing by her body. She jumped from her apartment building around 5 AM today. When she jumped she left her last words to her mother and husband, ‘I am saying goodbye to you because of the ‘bilingual education’”, Ms. Solonga, who was in tears, said in WeChat.
The Alshaa League Public Security Bureau confirmed in a “Police Report” that “Su[rnaa], female, 33 years old” had jumped from a building and died in the hospital at 7:40 AM, September 4, 2020.
This is the fourth life lost in protest of the new language policy that is aimed at the total eradication of the Mongolian language from all educational systems across Southern Mongolia in the next few years. The other three individuals who lost their life include a Mongolian middle-schooler from the Horchin Left Wing Middle Banner, a parent from Ongniuud Banner, and a teacher from Shuluun-huh Banner.
An estimated 300,000 Mongolian students continue a total school strike across the region, and in a desperate move, the Chinese authorities ordered all Mongolian employees of party committees, government units, and educational sectors not only to bring their own children to school but also to fill imposed quotas to bring an additional four to eight children to school.
The authorities’ laundry list of threats, which include termination of employment, expulsion from the party, cutting benefits and blacklisting children, have proven futile in the face of the Southern Mongolians’ collective determination of noncooperation.
“Mr. Huslen, who is a government employee in Ereen-hot, refused to cooperate with his superior. When he was threated to choose between his children and job, he courageously said he chose his children and walked out,” a friend of Huslen said in WeChat.
Similar posts and audio clips from all parts of Southern Mongolia are going viral, encouraging each other not to give up their fight to defend their mother tongue.
“You are coming to my grazing land and harassing me. You say you are going to record what I say. Go ahead and record. You want my signature, right? I will give you damn shit! For our children’s future and our nation’s future, I will be happy to fight to death.” an angry herder, in a short video, yelled at a policeman who came to collect signatures for the purpose of fraudulently showcasing “public support” of the new policy.
In another official response, Ms. Bu Xiaolin, Chairman of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, had an urgent televised meeting with government officials from all Leagues and Municipalities, and reiterated her firm stance to support the Central Government’s decision to implement the new policy.
On September 3, Ms. Hua Chunying, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, said in her regular press conference that “the relevant reports are political speculation with ulterior motives” when asked by an NHK reporter whether she can confirm that “there were protests following the implementation of a new bilingual education policy in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region”.
Despite the authorities’ long list of wanted posters issued by the Public Security authorities to arrest hundreds of protesters, nearly a thousand Mongolian high school and college students staged a large scale circular march in the regional capital Hohhot, chanting “Defend our mother tongue” and “Defend our legal rights”.
Shamans gathered in the dark with a banner reading “China! Stop the ban of Mongolian language in Inner Mongolian schools.”(SMRHIC – 2020-09-02)
On September 1, the first day of the new school year, an estimated 300,000 Mongolian students across the Chinese-occupied Southern Mongolia refused to go to schools where Chinese will be the only language of instruction.
On the second day of the school strike, Chinese authorities issued multiple wanted posters seemingly for the Mongolian protesters who took part in protests in Tongliao Municipality and Hingaan League.
At least more than a hundred individuals have been listed as wanted on the Weixin site of the Public Security Bureau Horchin District Branch in Tongliao Municipality alone. Similar wanted posters with each individual’s photo and a description of their physical appearance have also been issued by the Public Security authorities of Horchin District, Zaruud Banner, Naiman Banner, Tongliao Development Zone, Horchin Left Wing Middle Banner and Horchin Left Wing Rear Banner.
The posters renounce the “suspects” as “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” and offer a 1000 Yuan bounty for information leading to the apprehension of any “suspect”.
In the latest development, at least two Mongolian parents have reportedly died by suicide in protest of the authorities’ pressure to send their children to school. One is a mother and teacher from the Shuluun-huh Banner in Shilin-gol League. The other, a father whose wife is a teacher, was forced to send his child to school under tremendous pressure from the authorities in Tongliao Municipality.
Despite government pressure and police intimidation, an increasing number of Southern Mongolians are joining this region-wide noncooperation resistance movement. On September 2, the 300-plus Mongolian employees of Inner Mongolia Radio Station and Inner Mongolia TV Station, two official mouthpieces of the Chinese Communist Party, gathered to sign a joint statement to reject the new policy of “bilingual education.” According to audio statements published by some of these employees, the entire group is prepared to resign en masse if any of the ten employees who have been ordered to send their children to elementary or middle school lose their jobs for refusing to follow the order.
In solidarity with those in Southern Mongolia, people from all walks of life in the independent country of Mongolia, are joining the protest to urge the Chinese Government to withdraw the new policy that limits children’s language access.
An increasing number of demonstrations are being jointly organized by the citizens of Mongolia and Southern Mongolians in front of Chinese embassies and consulates in Mongolia, the United States, Japan and various European countries. In Ulaanbaatar, capital of Mongolia, a group of shamans gathered in the dark with a banner reading “China! Stop the ban of Mongolian language in Inner Mongolian schools.” They also performed a ritual to seek spiritual power from the Eternal Blue Sky to aid in the struggle of their Southern Mongolian brethren.
As a massive, nonviolent, civil disobedience resistance movement continues to gather momentum in Chinese-occupied Southern Mongolia, Mongolian schools across the region were empty on September 1, 2020, the first day of the new academic year.
Mongolian parents from different places reported via video clips that campuses and classrooms were empty thanks to the well-planned total school strike organized by Mongolians against the Chinese Central Government’s plan to replace Mongolian with Chinese as the only language of instruction in the region.
“Today, Shiliin-hot No. 1 Mongolian Middle School is empty. No students, not even a teacher’s car, can be seen on campus. I am not sure what happened,” a Mongolian parent said in mockery in a short video clip.
“This is Bairin Right Banner Mongolian Elementary School. There are some police in black uniform, some police in blue uniform, and some other police with their police vehicles, which some teachers are inside. But no parents and no students showed up,” a Mongolian resident of Daaban Town, capital of the banner, said in a short video, suggesting that the protesting teachers might have been taken into police vehicles.
“Today is September 1, 2020. This is the Hingaan Road Mongolian Experimental Elementary School. No students showed up. No parents sent their children to school today,” another Mongolian resident of Hohhot, capital city of Southern Mongolia, reported via a video message.
With the schools emptied out, the Mongolian students organized themselves to take to the streets to demand the protection of their mother tongue.
“We will not return to school, we will not return to school!” middle schoolers from eastern Southern Mongolia’s Tongliao municipality shouted on the street.
“The mother tongue that nurtured us is a part of our culture that must not be forgotten.” Another group of Mongolian middle school students from the Horchin Left Wing Rear Banner marched toward their protesting parents, who welcomed them with roaring cheers.
Mongolian students from the eastern Southern Mongolia’s Hulun-boir League gathered in the league capital Hailaar City despite the rain to take a “mother tongue oath”: “With our blood and bravery, let us defend our mother tongue.”
Nearly a thousand students gathered in the Inner Mongolia Normal School Affiliated High School campus in Hohhot and chanted, “Let us defend our legal rights” and “Let us defend our culture and heritage.”
Fearing the increasingly widespread protest and total school boycott, the Chinese authorities are increasing their police presence in Southern Mongolia. A short video taken by a Mongolian resident of Hohhot shows that hundreds of heavily armed riot police were waiting for orders in the city’s main square–Xina Hua Square.
According to some posts published on social media, government officials and Communist Party members of Mongolian ethnicity have been ordered to send their children to school by September 3, or else they will be fired or expelled from the party. Any Mongolians who are on social benefits will also automatically become ineligible for renewal if they do not send their children to school by the same deadline.
Thousands of students have taken to the streets of cities and towns as protests spread across Chinese-occupied Southern Mongolia, widely known as “Inner Mongolia” in the West as a direct translation of the highly Sino-centric Chinese term “nei meng gu.”
Protesting the Chinese Central Government’s recent decision to replace Mongolian with Chinese as the language of instruction in all Mongolian schools, these students have gathered in front of their schools and demanded their right to receive education in their native language.
“Let us Mongolians strive to defend our Mongolian culture!” several hundred students in school uniforms shouted in unison in front of the main entrance of the Naiman Mongolian Middle School in Tongoliao Municipality.
“Save out mother tongue”
At the Horchin Mongolian Middle School of Tongliao and the Chavag Mongolian High School of Ar-Horchin Banner, hundreds of Mongolian students broke through the school entrance and police barricades to leave the schools, where they had been confined by the school authorities to receive the new “bilingual education.”
Around 3 AM local time on August 31, several hundred high school students who were locked up in the boarding school dormitories of eastern Southern Mongolia’s Ongniuud Banner broke the lockers where their confiscated cellular phones were kept, contacted their parents, and emptied the school by 5 AM.
Videos show that curfews have been imposed for Lubei City, the capital of the Zaruud Banner in Tongliao Municipality, starting the evening of August 31 local time.
“Look at this, now. The capital city of Zaruud Banner is under curfew. No cars are allowed to leave the city, no cars are allowed in either. The whole city is closed down,” an eyewitness reported in a video clip.
As the first day of the new school year, September 1, approaches, people from all walks of life in Southern Mongolia are showing an unprecedented level of solidarity and coordination to continue the general school-boycott across the region.
In a short video, taxi drivers from the Shiliin-gol League stood outside their taxis and sang the song “My Mongolia – Steppe Mongolia”, after a widely circulated prerecorded poem reading “Borders cannot separate us as long as we have our language, hearth and livestock” was played.
Food delivery workers in Tongliao and Ulaanhad printed “Save Our Mother Tongue” on the delivery boxes on their bicycles and scooters, showing their support of the region-wide language movement.
From many banners (equivalent to counties), People’s Representatives of Mongolian ethnicity, mostly hand-picked by local governments, have sent joint petitions urging the government to reverse the plan, criticizing the new policy as “an act violating the Chinese constitutions, sabotaging ethnic harmony, and creating national division.”
As the tension escalates in Southern Mongolia, citizens and non-governmental organizations of the independent country of Mongolia are taking to the streets in solidarity with their Mongolian brothers and sisters in Southern Mongolia and demanding the government of Mongolia to urge the Chinese Government to stop this new policy through diplomatic means.
Mr. Elbegdorj Tsakhia, former President of Mongolia, sent out a video statement urging the Chinese Government to respect the rights of Southern Mongolians to use their native language. The former President also rallied Mongolians around the world to support the Southern Mongolian struggle to defend their right to mother tongue and culture.
“I strongly support the Southern Mongolians’ movement to save the Mongolian language. No matter where you live, as long as you are a Mongolian, you should join this movement. Without Mongolian language, there is no Mongolian nation we can speak of. Losing your language means losing your head,” the former President said. “Without your language, what is the use of your head? Without your writing, what is the use of your hands?”
As large-scale, region-wide, nonviolent civil disobedience gathers momentum across Southern Mongolia in protest of the Chinese Central Government’s plan to replace Mongolian with Chinese as the only language of instruction, Mongolian students started moving to the forefront of the massive school boycott sweeping the region.
Hundreds of students in school uniform gathered in front of the Tongliao Mongolian Middle School, one of the largest Mongolian schools in Southern Mongolia, chanting in tears, “Our mother tongue is Mongolian. Until death, we are Mongolian!”
Southern Mongolian students chanting “Our mother tongue is Mongolian. Until death, we are Mongolian!” (SMRHIC – 2020-08-29)
On the evening of August 30, a Mongolian student from Sheebert Mongolian Middle School of Horchin Left Wing Middle Banner reportedly jumped from the building to his death. Video footage shows an ambulance hurriedly departing the protest scene, leaving angry protesters behind.
At other schools, students broke through police barricades and left school grounds to join their protesting parents in roaring cheers of “This is who we are: Mongolians!”
Government officials, educational bureau workers, and even some police of Mongolian ethnicity are refusing to execute orders. Reports from Bairin Right Banner confirmed that almost half of the police force of the Banner are Mongolians who are refusing to arrest protestors or take part in any official propaganda activities.
Artists, bands, and sport clubs across Southern Mongolia are sending out joint statements to protest the new language policy that was set to take effect September 1, 2020. Colorful signatures with red finger prints and their names and pictures have gone viral via social media.
Epic storytellers using traditional instruments started calling on all Mongolians to oppose this new policy and save their language and the Mongolian nation as a whole. A storyteller sang in a short video, “Our mother tongue is Mongolian since tens of thousands of years ago; how can we Mongolians accept Chinese as the mother tongue?” and condemned the authorities use of the label “sedition” to crack down on the protest.
As overseas Southern Mongolians gather in front of Chinese embassies and consulates in the United States, European countries, Japan, and elsewhere, citizens of the independent country of Mongolia are planning to stage a large-scale protest in front of the Chinese Embassy in Ulaanbaatar in solidarity with their Mongolian brothers and sisters in Southern Mongolia.