DHARAMSALA, Apr 19: Hundreds of residents of Ar-Hundelen, Mongolia have stepped up the tempo of the protests since the beginning of this month over pollution of their traditional grazing lands.
Rights activists and lawyers who were trying to help Inner Mongolian herders, entangled in a bitter protest over the contamination of their grazing lands, were left to bear the brunt.
Chinese authorities have stepped up crackdown on rights activists and lawyers barring them from extending their support to the Inner Mongolian herders over the contamination of their grazing lands, Radio Free Asia (RFA) quoted a local source as saying in its report.
Subject to severe vigilance, the local residents of the Ar-Hundelen township in Zaruud Banner region are demanding compensation for the damage to their health and their live stocks transpired by the widespread industrial pollution nearby alumina smelters.
“Four lawyers who were heading towards Zaruud to offer legal advice to Ar-Hundelen herders have been stopped by police,” a local resident has told RFA on conditions of anonymity. “Two others are being followed, it seems, so they can’t continue their journey here,” the same source added.
According to a Germany-based ethnic Mongolian activist Xi Haiming, the lawyers had hoped to advise herders on how to use China’s environmental laws to advance their dispute through the courts. “It’s a favorite slogan of President Xi Jinping’s that China must be ruled by law, so that’s why the lawyers were heading out there,” Xi added.
An ethnic Mongolian scholar en route to offer help to the protesters was also detained briefly, local sources told RFA.
The mass protests outside an alumina smelting plant in neighboring Huuliin-gol earlier this month have confined 6 protesters in total to police custody, the report added. The local people are demanding transparency, compensation for lost livestock and free medical checks for themselves but the Local authorities have issued orders to ban local people from posting accounts of the pollution protests online.
“They are trying to cow the local population into submission, by forbidding them from posting things online,” said a source who spoke on condition of anonymity and added “They are stopping them from speaking out.”
The detention of Nasanulzei, a local herder, by Zaruud police last week validates the local’s claim as he has publicized a video footage of piles of his sheep with deformed teeth as they lay dead and twitching.
Local authorities have issued orders to ban local people from posting accounts of the pollution protests online. Police and government officials in Ar-Hundelen, when contacted by RFA, have confirmed the serious pollution problem in the area but pointed that the smelting plants are located in a separate jurisdiction. The region is filled with heavy Security forces with roads sealed off to prevent local herders from traveling to the smelting plants to continue their protests, sources have reported to RFA.