Tuesday, May 31, 2011

From Nomad to Nobody

This new film by Michael Buckley explores the Chinese policy of forcefully resettling Tibetan nomads in concrete barracks.
The Communist leadership believes that it could also apply the same policy to Inner Mongolia where Mongols have become a tiny minority in their homeland (less than 20% of the population). 
As reported in this article, Inner Mongolia recently witnessed its first known mass protest incident.
Resentment has created such a serious situation that martial law had to be imposed in the region. Like in the case of Tibet or Xinjiang, the authorities in Beijing will blame it on 'terrorist' elements in the ethnic 'nationality' community, but this not solve the problems created by some local Communist satraps (with Beijing's support).
Unless China starts respecting its own Constitution in which the place of the 'nationalities' is clearly defined, situation like the one at Kirti monastery (Gansu province) or in Inner Mongolia are bound to happen. 
Today, the only answer that the regime in Beijing knows is 'clampdown', beat and arrest local people, unfortunately it can only increase resentment, not dissolve it. 

Martial law imposed in protest-hit Inner Mongolia
May30, 2011
China imposed martial law in the nomadic region of northern Inner Mongolia where thousands had staged protests over several days after the death on May 11 of a Mongolian herder who was run over by Chinese coal mine truckers. While Reuters May 29 said the herder, named as Mergen, was a hit-and-run victim, Radio Free Asia online May 26 cited New-York-based Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center as saying he died following clashes between Mongolian herders in Abag banner (Chinese: Abagaqi) and Chinese mining company truck drivers.
The government was reported to have ordered a sweeping crackdown, shutting off universities and arresting at least 40 people. In regional capital Hohhot, all schools and universities were reported to be under police guard. All bus services were also reported to have been stopped in the affected banners, the equivalent of counties in Inner Mongolia. Shuluun Huh Banner's main town was reported to be "under complete control of riot police and army”.
It was not clear when the first mass protest by ethnic Mongolians, a rare occurrence, took place. But the one on May 25 was reported to involve more than 2,000 students and herders in Xilinhot city. More protests followed in more areas in the coming days in the Shuluun Huh Banner, or Zheng Lan Qi in Chinese, and West Ujimqin Banner, or Xi Wu Qi in Chinese.
China had said two ethnic Chinese truck drivers had been held over the death of the Mongolian herder whose family had already been compensated. However, the local Mongolian’s grievances ran deeper and their protests demanded action on larger issues. Radio Free Asia online said protesters held banners and posters saying "Defend the Rights of Mongols" and "Defend the Homeland" as they marched towards the government buildings of their respective banners. They were reported to have urged "the Chinese authorities to respect the Mongolian herders' right to their land and right to maintain their traditional way of life.”
As in Tibet, China had begun relocating more than 250,000 nomads from Inner Mongolia's grasslands in recent years, saying the move was necessary to protect the fragile ecosystem of the region. But the policy has been seen by ethnic Mongolians as further marginalization of Mongolian nomadic herders, who are already vastly outnumbered by Chinese immigrant peasants.
Inner Mongolia covers more than a tenth of the land mass of the People’s Republic of China but due to government engineered Chinese immigration over the decades, ethnic Mongolians now make up less than 20 per cent of the roughly 24 million population of what is called the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region.
Reuters said national-level state media had not reported on the unrest and the government, wary of any signs of instability, had moved to block discussion of the incidents on the Internet, though some pictures and comments had gone through.

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