Chinese Mongolians "beaten" for protesting mine pollution
Lead operations encroach on grazing land
Ethnic Inner Monglian herders are reported to have taken direct action against mining pollution for the second time in recent weeks.
In May hundreds of citizens took to the streets, demanding better protection of the environment and recognition of their human and cultural rights. See: Inner Mongolia's Deadly Coal Drive
A fortnight ago, around a hundred people occupied a lead mine which, they claimed, has been discharging large amounts of toxic wastes into their water supply.
The regional Human Rights Information Center says that more than 50 riot police then moved in to beat up the protestors.
One local resident, according to AFP, reported that the mine owners have agreed to pay US$ 180,000 compensation for the damage they had caused.
Chinese Mongolians protest again, herders beaten - rights group
30 June 2011
BEIJING - Chinese police beat up and detained ethnic Mongolian herders who protested over the weekend against pollution caused by a lead mine, an overseas rights group said on Thursday, in the latest unrest to strike China's remote Inner Mongolia.
The New York-based Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Centre said the protest was sparked this month in Inner Mongolia's Bayannuur after a lead mine expanded onto a piece of grazing land.
"After repeatedly petitioning the (local) governments expressing their concerns regarding the danger to their environment and health with no satisfactory response, on June 24 ... frustrated herders marched to the area of the mine and shut down the mine's water pump," the group said in an emailed statement.
"On June 25, the (local) government mobilized more than 50 riot police and attacked the protesters. Many herders were beaten severely and taken away by police. Their health condition and status are unknown as of the date of this report," it added.
An official reached by telephone at the Bayannuur government said he had not heard of any protests, and declined further comment. Calls to the lead mine went unanswered.
Bayannuur, more than 400 km (300 miles) northeast of Beijing, has been home to a lead mine since 1978, according to the Inner Mongolia government.
The vast northern region of Inner Mongolia was rocked by protests last month sparked by the death of an ethnic Mongolian herder who was hit and killed by a truck after taking part in protests against pollution caused by a coal mine.
Angry ethnic Mongolians took to the streets across Inner Mongolia demanding better protection of the environment as well as their rights and traditions.
This month, a court in Inner Mongolia ordered the execution of a man for murdering the herder.
Beijing, ever worried by threats to stability, is trying to address some of the protesters' broader concerns about the damage done by coal mining to traditional grazing lands.
The authorities have launched a month-long overhaul of the lucrative coal mining industry, vowing to clean up or close polluters.
Ethnic Mongolians, who make up less than 20 percent of the roughly 24 million population of Inner Mongolia, have complained that their traditional grazing lands have been ruined by mining and desertification, and that the government has tried to force them to settle in permanent houses. (Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Robert Birsel)
Herders in China's Inner Mongolia protest over lead mine in latest unrest, some reported hurt
30 June 2011
BEIJING - Ethnic Mongolian herders protested a lead mine operating on grazing land in the latest tension in a Chinese border region that recently saw its biggest demonstrations in two decades, a rights group and a local resident said Thursday.
The herders in Inner Mongolia's Bayannur township were upset that the Bayannur Lead Mine was discharging large amounts of toxic waste that was damaging the environment and killilng livestock, said the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center.
The herders marched to the mine last Friday and shut down a water pump that supplied a shaft, the New York-based group said.
Riot police moved in Saturday and "many herders were beaten severely," the group said in a statement. A local resident said there were about 100 protesters, four people were hurt, two of them police, and a police car was overturned.
The heavily polluting mining industry has fed deep resentment among Mongols. The mining boom has enriched some but pushed further to the margins an already dwindling number of herders - whose roaming the grasslands with their herds of cattle, goats and sheep lies at the core of Mongol identity.
Last month's protests followed the killings of two Mongols who were trying to block coal-mining and coal-hauling operations that locals complain damage grasslands.
In Bayannur, the protesters are among a group of 600 herders who moved to land near the mine about a decade ago and in recent weeks have been seeking compensation for the pollution caused by the mine, said a Han Chinese woman named Wang Cuiping who lives in housing on the mine compound.
Wang said that nearly two weeks ago, about a hundred of the herders went over to the administration building of the company operating the mine and set up their traditional dome tents in front of the offices in protest. "They just stayed there. Nothing else happened. And the mine bosses knew what they wanted. They wanted money and nothing else," Wang said.
The shutdown of the water pump forced production at the mine to be suspended for two days, she said. She added that the mine agreed to compensate the 600 herders with 1.2 million yuan ($180,000) in total and that the herders left two days ago.
Calls to the offices of the local government, the work safety bureaus and the Bayannur Lead Mine rang unanswered.