On the morning of September 4, 2020, Ms. Surnaa, a Mongolian employee of the Alshaa Left Banner Chinese Communist Party Committee in western Southern Mongolia, jumped from her residential building to her death in protest of the Chinese authorities’ new language policy called the “second generation bilingual education”.
“My name is Altanbagan. Today, my wife jumped from her building to kill herself. With the deepest pain and sorrow, I say this is who we Mongolians are. My fellow Mongolians, this is a new round of ‘Cultural Revolution’. My dear Mongolian brothers and sisters, I just would like to say to you that we Alshaa Mongolians are as determined as Mongolians anywhere else,” Mr. Altanbagan, who is himself an employee of the Banner Party Committee, said in an audio statement via WeChat.
“I am Surnaa’s sister-in-law. Now, I am here in the hospital standing by her body. She jumped from her apartment building around 5 AM today. When she jumped she left her last words to her mother and husband, ‘I am saying goodbye to you because of the ‘bilingual education’”, Ms. Solonga, who was in tears, said in WeChat.
The Alshaa League Public Security Bureau confirmed in a “Police Report” that “Su[rnaa], female, 33 years old” had jumped from a building and died in the hospital at 7:40 AM, September 4, 2020.
This is the fourth life lost in protest of the new language policy that is aimed at the total eradication of the Mongolian language from all educational systems across Southern Mongolia in the next few years. The other three individuals who lost their life include a Mongolian middle-schooler from the Horchin Left Wing Middle Banner, a parent from Ongniuud Banner, and a teacher from Shuluun-huh Banner.
An estimated 300,000 Mongolian students continue a total school strike across the region, and in a desperate move, the Chinese authorities ordered all Mongolian employees of party committees, government units, and educational sectors not only to bring their own children to school but also to fill imposed quotas to bring an additional four to eight children to school.
The authorities’ laundry list of threats, which include termination of employment, expulsion from the party, cutting benefits and blacklisting children, have proven futile in the face of the Southern Mongolians’ collective determination of noncooperation.
“Mr. Huslen, who is a government employee in Ereen-hot, refused to cooperate with his superior. When he was threated to choose between his children and job, he courageously said he chose his children and walked out,” a friend of Huslen said in WeChat.
Similar posts and audio clips from all parts of Southern Mongolia are going viral, encouraging each other not to give up their fight to defend their mother tongue.
“You are coming to my grazing land and harassing me. You say you are going to record what I say. Go ahead and record. You want my signature, right? I will give you damn shit! For our children’s future and our nation’s future, I will be happy to fight to death.” an angry herder, in a short video, yelled at a policeman who came to collect signatures for the purpose of fraudulently showcasing “public support” of the new policy.
In another official response, Ms. Bu Xiaolin, Chairman of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, had an urgent televised meeting with government officials from all Leagues and Municipalities, and reiterated her firm stance to support the Central Government’s decision to implement the new policy.
On September 3, Ms. Hua Chunying, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, said in her regular press conference that “the relevant reports are political speculation with ulterior motives” when asked by an NHK reporter whether she can confirm that “there were protests following the implementation of a new bilingual education policy in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region”.
Despite the authorities’ long list of wanted posters issued by the Public Security authorities to arrest hundreds of protesters, nearly a thousand Mongolian high school and college students staged a large scale circular march in the regional capital Hohhot, chanting “Defend our mother tongue” and “Defend our legal rights”.
Sept. 4, 2020
Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center (SMHRIC)
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