Dhaka, Bangladesh
Two more WeChat group administrators detained

Two more WeChat group administrators detained

As Ms. Bu Xiaolin, chairman of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, visited the northern border of Urad Middle Banner on April 22, 2019, more than a hundred local herders gathered in front of the local government to demand a meeting with her. A dozen were arrested, and two protestors who maintained multiple WeChat discussion groups were placed under a 14-day administrative detention. According to communications received by the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center (SMHRIC), the local authorities have not taken any effective measures to protect the natural environment and have failed to provide adequate compensation to affected communities. Among the protestors were Ms. Bai Xiurong and Mr. Altanbagan, two Mongolian herders who maintained and hosted a number of discussion groups via their only available social media tool, WeChat. Both were thrown into the SWAT team vehicles, along with about ten other protestors. "Bai Xiurong's sister was summoned to the Public Security Bureau personnel yesterday. She was forced to surrender Bai Xiurong's phone," local herder Tsetseg told the SMHRIC in an audio message. "The Public Security Bureau accessed her phone and wiped out all the WeChat discussion groups she maintained." Local herders said that since Bai Xiurong's arrest, her disabled elderly parents, who need constant care, have been left unattended, and her livestock remained inside the fence without fodder or water. "Some were released around midnight and the early morning of April 23 while all we other herders staged a sit-in outside the government building, demanding the immediate release of all arrested herders," an unidentified local herder said in a WeChat statement. "Look at these police. Hundreds of them are arriving," an anonymous protestor said in video footage taken at the protest scene. "We are treated like animals. They rounded up us like fencing up livestock," another protestor said in a video. "Whoever comes to the government to express his or her opinion is arrested like this," the protestor added. As the Chinese authorities speed up their policies of economic exploitation and resource extraction in pastoralist areas in Southern Mongolia, protests and demonstrations from Mongolian herders have become increasingly widespread. In response, the local governments mobilize a large number of police and SWAT personnel to break up the protests. In other similar cases, last week Mongolian protestors, including Mr. O.Sechenbaatar and Mr. Tsogjil from eastern Southern Mongolia's Heshigten Banner, were placed under criminal detention for "obstructing official business" and "picking quarrels and provoking troubles," respectively. Both are still held in the Heshigten Banner Detention Center.

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