'He Snatched my Phone Out of my Hand And Smashed it on The Ground'

china-xinna2-040519.jpg Ethnic Mongolian activist Xinna (R) is shown with her husband Hada (L) and son Uiles (C) in a Dec. 10, 2010 photo.

Ethnic Mongolian activist Xinna has long campaigned for the rights of Mongolian farmers and herders who complain of discrimination and land appropriation by Chinese officials and companies in the northern region of Inner Mongolia.

Like many rights activists and persistent petitioners, she has herself been targeted for retaliation by the authorities.

She spoke to RFA's Mandarin Service about her treatment at the hands of plainclothes police while helping herders from Zaruud Banner to pursue an official complaint.

"On April 1, I and three rights defenders from Tongliao city in Zaruud Banner were writing our petitioning materials and got tired," Xinna said.

I went to take a walk around the park, and they went with me," she said. "The police normally assigned to me were very close this time, and I told them to keep their distance, and not to frighten [the people with me], but they wouldn't listen.

"So I took out my phone and started filming them, and one of them picked up a stone and was going to hit me with it," Xinna said.

"I dodged out of the way, and then I really laid into him, asking him his name. When I got to the western gate of the park I looked behind me and saw that they were following me again, so I took out my phone to take photos of them," she said.

"Then he snatched my phone out of my hand and smashed it on the ground."

'They wouldn't come out'

Xinna said she immediately reported the case to the local police.

"I called three times, but they wouldn't come out," she said.

"By the time I got home, my son already knew, and he called the police again, and officers from the police station came over and said that it was muddle-headed of me to have called the police."

"That guy didn’t show up today. They had swapped him for a different plainclothes officer."

Xinna’s son Uiles said the officer had also shoved and beaten his mother.

"It was a policeman who snatched away my mother’s cell phone and broke it," he said. "They shoved her, hit her, snatched her cell phone, and then threw it on the ground. They did this even with the herders standing next to her filming it."

Calls to Xinna's local police station rang unanswered during office hours on Thursday.

Clashes common

Ethnic Mongolians, who make up almost 20 percent of Inner Mongolia's population of 23 million, increasingly complain of widespread environmental destruction and unfair development policies in the region.

Clashes between Chinese state-backed mining or forestry companies and herding communities are common in the region, which borders the independent country of Mongolia.

But those who complain about the loss of their grazing lands are frequently targeted for harassment, beatings, and detention by the authorities.

Reported by Qiao Long for RFA's Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

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