News / Asia

China Sentences 6 Mongol Herders in Land Grab Case

TEXT SIZE - +
Reuters
— Six herders in China who tried to defend grazing land from expropriation by a forestry firm have been sentenced in the resource-rich Inner Mongolia region, a lawyer and family members said on Monday, in a case that has sparked protests.
 
The unrest in Inner Mongolia is the latest flare up of ethnic tension in China after deadly protests by Muslim Uighur people in the far western Xinjiang region and unrest among Tibetans in the west.
 
Ethnic Mongols have long 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 dwellings.
 
The six Mongol herders were sentenced to prison terms ranging from one to two years on Dec. 31 on a charge of “sabotaging production management” by a court in Ongniud Banner, the area of Inner Mongolia where the incident occurred, a lawyer representing one of the accused and family members of two of them told Reuters by telephone.
 
“The verdict is clearly unjust, this is a land dispute and not a criminal case,” said the lawyer, who declined to be identified for fear of government retribution.
      
“The fact that it's been turned into a criminal case is because of the interference of the local government,” the lawyer continued.
 
“The villagers have been going to the municipal government and Beijing to petition, and the local government has been criticized for it. They are under great pressure so they had to resort to this approach.”
      
Officials at the court could not be reached.
 
The herders were arrested in June after a clash with workers from the state-owned Wengniuteqi Shuanghe Forestry, the herders' family members said earlier. The herders had accused the workers of illegally occupying grazing land.
 
Protests        
 
The lawyer and family members said the herders had urged officials to address their land problem for years.
 
“I'm dissatisfied with the verdict,” said Sarangowaa, the wife of one of Tulguur, one of the accused. “My feeling is that they aren't guilty.”
 
Sobdoo, the sister of one of the accused called Tugusbayar, said the herders' plight sparked a protest on Dec. 30 by more than 100 herders outside a government building.
 
Many Mongols in China go by only one name.
 
Nearly 200 herders staged protests in front of government buildings of Ongniud Banner and Ulaanhad Municipality on Dec. 30 and 31, according to the New York-based Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center.
 
Inner Mongolia, an autonomous region which covers more than a 10th of China's land mass and has its largest coal reserves, was rocked by protests in 2011 after an ethnic Mongol herder was killed by a truck after taking part in protests against pollution caused by a coal mine.
 
Ethnic Mongols now make up less than 20 percent of the region's population of about 24 million. Before the Communist revolution in 1949, Mongols far outnumbered majority Han Chinese.
 
The United States has expressed concern about the fate of China's most famous Mongol dissident, Hada, who was sent back to detention almost as soon as he completed a 15-year sentence for separatism in 2010.

You May Like

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

36 people are confirmed dead, but some 270 remain trapped on board More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid