Southern Mongolia: China Censors And Threatens Mongolian Language Policy Critics
In response to widespread discontent among Southern Mongolians in China due to the phasing out of Mongolian-language education, the Chinese government has imposed a “systemic crackdown” in Southern Mongolia, shutting off the only Mongolian-language social media platform in China, Bainuu. Other content relating to the government’s policy to erase Mongolian-language education, mainly on the Chinese social media app WeChat, has been heavily censored, with over 28 WeChat users being summoned by the authorities because of their posts. Moreover, over 450 WeChat users have received warnings, either in-person or by telephone, threatening them with punishment if they continue to question the Chinese policy online. The actions continue the trend of Chinese cultural genocide against Southern Mongolians through land expropriation and banning education in their own language.
Below is an article by the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center (SMHRIC)
August 24, 2020
Protests from all walks of Southern Mongolian society are escalating after leaked documents (see here: http://smhric.org/news_672.htm) revealed the Chinese Central Government’s secret plan to wipe out Mongolian-language education in Southern Mongolia in the final phase of its decades-long cultural genocide campaign.
“Southern Mongolia has quickly become a police state again in the past few days as the tension has risen between the government and the Mongolians who are about to be deprived of their last symbol of national identity—the Mongolian language,” a blogger named Nasandelger said in a WeChat group recently formed in response to the Chinese Central Government’s plan for replacing Mongolian with Chinese as the language of instruction in Southern Mongolia.
On the evening of August 23, Bainuu, the only Mongolian-language social media application available in China, which hosted about 400,000 Southern Mongolians users, was shut down by the Chinese authorities.
“The systematic crackdown really started from the total shutdown of all Bainuu chat groups last Wednesday around 4 pm local time,” Mr. Dugar Zaisan, an active Bainuu member and host of several chat groups on the platform, told the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center (SMHRIC). “Then almost 72 hours later, around 4 pm Saturday local time, the timelines and walls of all Bainuu users became unavailable.”
WeChat discussions and posts on the new so-called “bilingual education” policy are also being heavily censored. Posts are being removed and bloggers are being questioned and warned of punishment.
“At least 28 people in our WeChat groups, mostly consisting of concerned parents and students, were either summoned or visited by State Security personnel in a single day,” a Mongolian named Oyuungerel said in an audio statement posted on WeChat.
Others estimated that at least 450 Southern Mongolian WeChat users have been warned by local State Security and Public Security authorities either over the phone or in-person not to spread information about the “bilingual education” program online.
“Two days ago, local government officials with the State Security personnel came to me and warned me not to discuss anything about ‘bilingual education’ on WeChat. They said all the programs were canceled and no ‘bilingual education’ would be implemented at all. I told them I already said what I had to say on the Internet. But today, I saw the leaked documents revealing that the program has not been halted but implemented hurriedly and cleanly. What a shameless lie! All Chinese officials from the top to bottom are trained to lie,” Mr. Sechenbaatar, a writer who was detained and placed under house arrest multiple times, said in an audio statement via WeChat.
“70 years of killing and political oppression do not seem to be enough. Now the Chinese are about to cut our tongues off. May the Eternal Blue Sky help us! Feet shackled and tongues cut off, our nation and our people are soon to be pushed into a dark and bottomless grave,” Sechenbaatar said.
Mr. Suhee, another angry Mongolian parent from central Southern Mongolia’s Left Ujumchin Banner, published his conversation with a State Security agent who attempted to stop him from distributing any information about the covert implementation of “bilingual education”. The audio conversation went viral among Southern Mongolians via WeChat.
When the State Security agent tried to warn him not to spread opinions of opposition online, Suhee said, “Let me make myself clear to you. If I were afraid of speaking, I would have not spoken. If you want to arrest me, go ahead and have your Public Security Bureau arrest me, and throw me into your jail as political prisoner. I am not afraid of dying now. But I certainly will not kill myself. If one of you kills me, my name will go down to history.
“Just for your information, I am recording this conversation and will make it public all over the Internet tomorrow.”
As all members of Southern Mongolian society are determined to fight for the last stronghold of their national identity, many have suggested carrying out a large-scale school strike to boycott this new policy. Others have called on Mongolian parents not to send their children to school and instead to homeschool.
Mongolian wrestlers from different areas of Southern Mongolia have sent out statements that they will refrain from any summer wrestling tournaments.
“During this national crisis when our beautiful mother tongue is facing an unprecedented level of destruction, we young wrestlers from across Shuluun-huh Banner have decided to refrain from any entertainment this summer, including the 15th regional tournament,” a joint statement by all Mongolian wrestlers from central Southern Mongolia’s Shiliin-gol League said. “Let our entire nation put aside all forms of entertainment to fight for our right to our mother tongue!”
Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center (SMHRIC)