Chinese police hunt for leaders of school protest and boycott in Inner Mongolia

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Chinese police have started a region-wide operation to search for the leaders of the Sept. 01 parents and students protest, and the organizers of school boycotts among the region’s 4.2 million ethnic Mongolians.

Schools and classrooms stay empty across the northern Chinese region of Inner Mongolia on Thursday, as civil disobedience movement by students and parents protesting plans to end Mongolian-medium teaching in the region’s schools continues.

The protest action among ethnic Mongolians in the region resulted in empty schools and classrooms as parents and students boycotted schools.

Police in Xing’an League and Ulanhot city were meanwhile out, looking for school-age ethnic Mongolian children to force them back into school.

Japan-based ethnic Mongolian scholar Khubis said high-school students in Shiliin-Gol League had begun a hunger strike over the plan to end first-grade classes in the Mongolian language.

“Four students in the third grade of a Mongolian-medium high school in XilinGol went on hunger strike [on Sept. 01]to protest the new Chinese language education policy,” Khubis told RFA.

“More than 300 ethnic Mongolian employees of the state-run Inner Mongolia Radio Station signed a petition saying that they could not accept the new Chinese-medium education policy,” he said.

New editions of Mongolian-language textbooks were found to have had chapters on Mongolians’ pride in their homelands and love of their language deleted, while sections in Chinese had been added to the text, Khubis said.

Meanwhile, authorities in Urad Middle Banner — a county-like division — put out urgent directives ordering all ethnic Mongolian civil servants or public employees to return their children to schools by Sept. 02, or face immediate firing and disciplinary action.

Ethnic Mongolian herders said they had seen large numbers of armoured personnel carriers on the streets in some areas, while the local government is saying that the protests were “incited by overseas forces.”

Mongolian academic Arichaa said roadblocks have been set up at borders between banners and cities.

“Many roads between banners and counties have been blocked since Sept. 02,” Arichaa said. “At the border between Naiman and Kulun, there have been clashes between parents and police.”

A mass social media shutdown had made it harder for parents and teachers to coordinate their actions, Arichaa said.

“Parents and teachers cannot communicate via phone calls, or WeChat,” Arichaa said, adding that at least two people had reportedly been detained on suspicion of “picking quarrels and stirring up trouble,” a charge often used to target peaceful critics of the ruling Chinese Communist Party.

Across the border in the independent country of Mongolia, scholar Chimag said academics had organized a protest in the capital, Ulaanbaatar, outside the Chinese embassy.

“They were hoping that the Chinese government would reconsider the policy it has started implementing, and restore the old system,” Chimag said.

Ethnic Mongolian parents from across the region have continued to send video clips to the New York-based Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center (SMHRIC).

The group estimated that, on the first day of the new semester on Sept. 01, around 300,000 ethnic Mongolian students had joined the boycott. (Source: RFA)

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