Residents in Shuluun Huh Banner, or Zheng Lan Qi in Chinese, and Left Ujumchin Banner, or Xi Wu Qi in Chinese, near Inner Mongolia’s Xilinhot city, told Reuters that martial law was imposed on Friday. Banner is a traditional term for county.
“There was martial law declared this morning,” said one resident of Shuluun Huh Banner who gave her name as Tana. “It’s still ongoing with fewer guards right now, but some police are on the street.”
Despite this, hundreds of Mongolians defied the tighter security and marched towards the government building in Shuluun Huh Banner before noon, said Enghebatu Togochog of the New York-based Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Centre.
“Students have been locked up in their schools and they aren’t allowed to join in their protests,” Togochog said, adding that one or two high schools and several middle schools have been sealed off.
Asked to comment on the protests, an official answering the telephone at the Inner Mongolia government’s propaganda office said: “I have no time, goodbye,” before hanging up.
Jonathan Watts, a reporter for the Guardian, tweeted about being harassed and questioned by security officers in his hotel. From his report from the area:
Outside the closed gates of the Xilingol Mongolian high school, Chinese police watch warily as hundreds of students perform calisthenics in a yard from where the previous day they left to march through the streets. A short drive away, another police unit monitors a middle school that has become a source of concern. On the grasslands, patrol cars block access to a troubled community of herders and miners.
Security forces in Inner Mongolia, an autonomous region of China, are on high alert after the biggest wave of demonstrations in 20 years, sparked by a killing that symbolises the traumatic transition of Mongolia’s nomadic grasslands into a mining powerhouse.
On 11 May, a Han Chinese coal-truck driver ran over a 35-year-old Mongolian herder, known as Mergen, as he tried to stop a convoy driving across fenced prairies in Xiwu.
Allegations the killing was deliberate inflamed passions in the indigenous Mongolian community, which has been squeezed out of much of the land over 50 years.
More details and video footage of the protests is on the website of the Southern Mongolia Human Rights Information Center: