Target: Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China
Goal: Protect the right of ethnic Mongolians to decide the fate of their own lands.
The message the Chinese government has sought to convey to ethnic Mongolian herders couldn’t be clearer: If you dare resist seizure of your grazing lands, you will spend years behind bars. Natives of Inner Mongolia (a province in the north of China with a 20% Mongolian population) who need land to tend to their livestock aren’t consulted or notified of decisions to condemn their lands. They only learn what is happening when crews show up to chop down trees and set up a work site on their territory.
When a group of six ethnic Mongolians from the village Bayannuur Gachaa protested the incursion of the state-owned Shuang He Forestry onto their grazing lands, they were arrested on charges that could result in 7-year-sentences. The state’s case against the herders rests on an unfair interpretation of their actions. Their attempts to block vehicle entry onto their territory and to peacefully interfere with the work of government personnel were interpreted by the government in starker terms. The court will argue that these actions entailed the intentional destruction of property and the sabotage of production and management. This is ludicrous, as the herders were simply defending their territory.
Sign this petition to demand that the Chinese government drop the charges against herders for merely trying to protect their territory from seizure, and conduct its land appropriation policies in a respectful manner conditioned upon the approval of the ethnic Mongolians who reside there.
Dear President Xi Jinping,
You cannot continue pursuing a policy of confiscating grazing lands vital to the livestock cultivation of ethnic Mongolians, without negotiating with them beforehand. Their resistance to seizure of their territory should not be interpreted as a crime, but merely as a way to assert their rights. When the ethnic Mongolians prefer using their land to raise animals rather than ceding it to development, the way to resolve the conflict is not to intimidate them into surrender by jailing them.
It may seem like harsh retaliation in this case will frighten the rest of the population from attempting to oppose land confiscation, but in fact it will only serve to arouse the anger of ethnic Mongolians against the Chinese, and sharpen the animosity between the central government and the Inner Mongolian population. That is why we would like to appeal to you to drop the criminal charges against the six herders, and direct authorities in Inner Mongolia to change land appropriation processes so as to require the agreement of the native population. Once the ethnic Mongolians’ rights to their land are acknowledged, the state will be able to encourage development in the region in a harmonious, discord-free manner.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: intrepidtravel.com