Protests Gather Momentum in Mongolia

Mongolians gathered in Hohot, the capital of Inner Mongolia, to protest the killing of an ethnic Mongolian man who had led protests against local mines. From the New York Times:

The protests, which drew more than 100 people to the center of Hohhot and led to a series of arrests, followed a week of similar demonstrations across this vast borderland that have rattled the authorities.

The rally took place on the same day that Chinese officials announced they would file murder charges against a forklift driver accused of striking and killing Yan Wenlong, who was among 20 people protesting a coal mine near Xilinhot on May 15.

The deaths of Mr. Yan and of another activist killed by a truck driver five days earlier have galvanized anger over the destruction of the Mongolian grasslands and stoked long-simmering resentment over Beijing’s governance of this resource-rich region.

On Sunday, the state-run news media reported that Inner Mongolia’s Communist Party secretary, Hu Chunhua, had met with students and teachers and promised justice in the killing of the other activist, named Mergen, a herder whose body was reported to have been dragged nearly 500 feet. Two Han Chinese have been arrested in connection with the death.

Meanwhile, the official Xinhua News Agency is reporting that the government of Inner Mongolia has promised to make changes to the local mining industry in response to the upsurge in anger:

Xinhua News Agency said the regional government will probe the industry’s impact on the environment and the livelihoods of local residents, and improve the training and management of mining personnel.

In one of the cases that triggered the protests, a Chinese miner will also face a murder trial in the killing of a Mongolian man. The miner, Sun Shuning, is accused of driving a forklift and hitting Mr Yan Wenlong on May 15.

Mr Yan was leading a group of 20 people to a coal mine that locals said caused noise, dust and pollution when they clashed with the miners, Xinhua said.

The quick handling of the case comes after Inner Mongolia’s Communist Party chief promised students in the city of Xilinhot that the authorities would punish the perpetrators in that case and in another – in which a Chinese truck driver hit and killed a Mongolian herder who, along with other herders, was blocking coal trucks from intruding on their grazing lands.

Read more about the protests in Inner Mongolia via CDT.

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