Thousands of Mongolians Protest China Erasing Language in Schools

Mongolians protest at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongo

Thousands of ethnic Mongolians across northern China are protesting a Chinese Communist Party (CCP) mandate to end Mongolian-language teaching in primary schools, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported Monday.

A directive from China’s Inner Mongolia region education department recently “ordered an end to Mongolian-language classes for first-year primary students and an end to Mongolian-medium teaching and materials in favor of the Chinese language,” local teachers have told RFA in recent weeks. The order was implemented by schools “without making the policy public ahead of the start of the new semester,” according to the report.

In response to the mandate, protests broke out in major regional cities over the weekend, including Tongliao, Ordos, and the capital of Inner Mongolia, Hohhot.

“[L]ocal authorities dispatched riot police to a high school in Zaruud Banner, a county-like division, after the authorities tried to lock down the campus amid widespread protests over an end to Mongolian-medium education. Hundreds of ethnic Mongolian parents gathered in front of the Gahait Mongolian School demanding the authorities release their children,” according to the report.

“SWAT teams and hundreds of riot police poured to the scene, preventing the parents from accessing the school dormitories,” according to the New York-based Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center (SMHRIC). “Following hours of standoff, parents finally broke through the police barricade and proceeded to pick up their children,” the center said.

“Several parents were beaten and taken into police vehicles” in Horchin Left Rear Banner and Huree Banner amid protests outside schools there, SMHRIC said. “[H]undreds of Mongolian activists have either been detained or placed under residential surveillance, a form of house arrest,” in response to the region-wide protests, according to the report.

CCP authorities have also been shutting down Mongolian groups on the Chinese messaging app WeChat in an effort to thwart further protests planned on the platform.

“The crackdown is very serious,” Bukhbataar, an ethnic Mongolian herder from Urad Middle Banner, in the region’s west, told RFA on Saturday. “More than 70 [Mongolian WeChat] groups had been closed [by Saturday evening],” he added.


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.