Present State and Prospects for Southern Mongolian Racial Self-determination Movement in Japan
(the case of activities of Khuriltai (Southern Mongolia Congress))
MIURA Kotarō (critic)
In Japan, unfortunately, not many people have yet to fully recognize the Chinese government’s cruel oppression and genocide in the South Mongolia (Inner Mongolia), which should be considered as genocidal measures againstSouthern Mongolian (Inner Mongolian). This is the reality we should know and accept, which is comparable with Tibetan and Uighur issues. However, Mr. Hada and Mr. Huuchinhu in Southern Mongolia have courageously spoken out, written, and acted against the oppression of Mongolian herders without being daunted, resulting in a recent deeper understanding of the issues in Japan. This report describes prospects for the movement’s development in the future in Japan, which is one of the democratic countries in Asia and would be politically and economically very influential, by introducing the activities of Khuriltai (Southern Mongolia Congress) and what Prof. Yang Hai-ying, the most influential intellectual on Mongolia in Japan, has done.
1. Establishment of Khuriltai (Southern Mongolia Congress)
On November 10, 2016, the inaugural meeting of Khuriltai(Southern Mongolia Congress) was held at Members’ Office Building of the House of Councillors in Tokyo. On that day, there was a group of seemingly Chinese students protesting against the event in front of the building. However, it was obvious that the students were mobilized as they went through the motions of protesting, and the organizer continued the event by ignoring the protest.
The objectives of the organization are to integrate global movements for Southern Mongolia and allow for their reciprocal communication. With 15 members in total attendance, the standing committee includes the Inner Mongolian People’s Party, Mongolian Liberal Union Party, Inner Mongolia Democratic Party, South-Mongolian Liberal Democratic Fund, Southern Mongolian Youth Alliance, Blue Flag Association, and individual representatives. Mr. Temtselt Shobchuud, who had continued movements since the 1980s, was elected as Chairman of the organization. Chimed Jirgal, Oh Urgen, and Nomchin Tofshinjan were elected respectively as Vice Chairman, Olhunud Daichin as Secretary-General, and Arch Govrud as Vice Secretary-General.
For more information, including the declaration of its formation, course of action, and personnel, please refer to the following URLs:
There were many attendees and words of encouragement received at the meeting, including the Tibetan government-in-exile, Japanese legislators, Chinese democracy activists, and Pema Gyalpo (President of the Asian Solidarity Council for Freedom and Democracy), and other Japanese intellectuals.
To read reports from the attendees of the day, please refer to the following URL:
Unfortunately, it must be granted that some people misunderstand the course of action. For one thing, some people criticize Khuriltai for describing itself as the entity that unifies global movements for Southern Mongolia since those criticizing the organization think it was formed in an arbitrary manner by the participants at the meeting. They also criticize the organization for not clearly advocating the independence of Southern Mongolia. For the former accusation, the reality must be granted that Khuriltai is not fully supported by the supporting organizations. However, the organization as an open organization has called for all the movement organizations for Southern Mongolia to join us and those organizations disapproving its objectives to have a continuous dialogue from its start to now (2020). Prof. Yang Hai-ying of Shizuoka University pointed out that “The word ‘khuriltai,’ meaning ‘parliamentary system’ in Mongolia, has a long history dating back to Xiongnu-era before Christ when heads of various tribes with different ideas and principles sat in a circle in a tent for fair discussion without considering their ranks.” And, the purpose of this organization is to restore the spirit of the system today.
For the latter accusation, Olhunud Daichin, Secretary-General, has been almost always asserting the “independence” on the scene of its movements. In consideration of the present state of the Chinese government’s genocidal measures, it’s sufficiently persuasive asserting independence would be the only way for them to survive. However, the course of action was decided as a provisional one after the discussion with various supporters and supporting organizations on the policies to be independent, to establish their rights to racial self-determination, and to improve the worst environmental problems and human rights issues before everything without excluding all the policies. Thus, it does not deny the independence movement. At the same time, it also means the organization has no intention at present to exclude movements and supporters who do not assert independence. What’s necessary now is to let the international community know the present situation of human rights issues and China’s oppression in Southern Mongolia and call for people to work together and support people domestically fighting. Khuriltai does not reject the supports and participation of groups of people and individuals who support it (of course, the participants in Khuriltai are limited to those of Mongolian organizations in principle).
Personally, I support the independence of not only Mongol but also Tibet and Uighur (East Turkestan) in principle, but, to pave the way to their independence, I think at least “establishment of the right to racial self-determination” is necessary and will use these words in public. It should be assumed that each ethnic group in China obtains its right to self-determination and is able to choose whether to be independent or not, and a sort of federal system is established in China where their rights to self-determination and self-government are granted even if they stay in China.
2. Present State and Prospects for Khuriltai
It is a fact that Khuriltai activities are based on Southern Mongolia activists and researchers living in Japan at present. A big challenge at present is the lack of the global development of movement, but this issue will be described later.
(1) Regular appearance on Internet programs
In Japan, the program called “南モンゴル草原の風 [Wind through Southern Mongolia Grassland]” has been broadcast through “Channel Sakura,” an internet television channel, about once a month since January 2017. The program has continued conveying such information as the current state of Southern Mongolia, its history, culture, and traditions to Japanese people and overseas Mongolians (partly broadcast in Mongolian).
You can watch the first video of the program from the following link:
[南モンゴル草原の風 #1] Southern Mongolia Congress “Khuriltai”/Mongolian Music “Khoomii” [January/12/2017]
The following shows the latest video of the program:
[南モンゴル草原の風 #29] Visit to the Tibetan Government-in-exile: the deep relationship between Tibetan Buddhism and Southern Mongolia/Reason behind the plague epidemic in Inner Mongolia [December/15/2019]
As of January 2, 2020, the latest video has been viewed by about 17,000 people. Although it’s not enough, the program is considered to have an influence on Japanese public opinion to some extent. Channel Sakura, one of the oldest conservative internet programs in Japan, also widely reports Uighur issues, ethnic issues in Asia, and human rights issues.
(2) Development of publications and internet discussions with the case of Mongolia Human Rights Report/Speech by Olhunud Daichin, Secretary-General, at the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
Publication of Mongolia Human Rights Report
Khuriltai made a report on human rights situation in Southern Mongolia from 2014 to 2016 and published it in Japanese and English on the Internet. You can read the whole papers from the following links:
http://southmongolia.org/archives/98 (for English version).
Olhunud Daichin, Secretary-General, expressing concerns about Southern Mongolia issues at the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
The Asian Solidarity Council for Freedom and Democracy (President: Pema Gyalpo), of which Olhunud Daichin, Secretary-General, is also a member, submitted the following document to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in August 2018.Olhunud Daichin at the Committee in Geneva criticized the issues in Southern Mongolia as the Chinese government’s racial discrimination and genocidal measures. You can access the submitted document in English from the following link:
Khuriltai also irregularly holds workshops and performs a demonstration and public protest. For more information, please refer to the organization website. Some of the notable events are as follows:
Vigil for Mr. Huuchinhu (October 2019);
Vigil for Mr. Mergen (May 2019);
Memorial service for General Babojab (December 2018);
Mr. Urgen’s speech at the 12th Interethnic Interfaith Leadership Conference (November 2017).
(3) Plans and prospects for activities in the futureA. Application to UNESCO’s Memory of the World to register the genocide in Southern Mongolia in the Cultural Revolution era
Although the application was decided when Khuriltai was formed, it is announced now as it has been prepared to some extent at present (January 2020).
The comprehensive document investigation and witness revision by Prof. Yang Hai-ying of Shizuoka University in Japan have revealed that what happened in Southern Mongolia in the Cultural Revolution era was fierce genocidal measures against Mongolians. The main results of the research are summarized in a book called “墓標なき草原 [Grassland without Grave Posts]” (published by Iwanami Shoten).（Prof. Yang is currently compiling an enormous number of documents in the Cultural Revolution era）
Khuriltai aims at letting the international community know the evil action as Stalin’s massacre and Nazi concentration camps by registering the genocide of Southern Mongolians as one of the negative historical legacies for humankind on UNESCO’s Memory of the World. While the Chinese government partly admits its mistake in the Cultural Revolution era, it marginalizes their atrocities by attributing its responsibilities to some radical executive members knows as the Gang of Four, not admitting that many ethnic groups, including Mongolian ones, went physically extinct in the era. This is something we Mongolians take action against.
At the same time, the history of Japan and Mongol has something to do with the genocide of Mongolians in the era. Before the Second World War, Southern Mongolia was under the influence of Japan, which gave many Mongolians military education (some of them came to Japan to study). Khuriltai does not directly comment on a history issue, but it is an unmistakable fact that those Mongolians educated by Japan were existing as the elite who had received a modern education after the founding of the People’s Republic of China and, at the same time, those Mongolians were the targets of discrimination and hate by Chinese people who saw them as those “hanging Japanese swords” who were the targets of arrest, torture, and execution in the Cultural Revolution era.
The organization has almost completed the preparation of documents to be submitted to the UN and is scheduled to finish editing the documents by this summer. UNESCO is currently not receiving proposals for the Memory of the World due to the intervention of the Chinese government in recent years and its nature of recent proposals whose facts are controversial and easy to become politicized.However, we, Khuriltai, will complete the preparation of documents and organization of materials by this summer to submit documents to UNESCO immediately after it resumes inviting proposals, and if UNESCO does not resume, we will globally publicize the documents via the Internet to let people know the issues.
B. Obtaining wider support and reinforcing the organization at the Khuriltai assembly in 2020
The Khuriltai general assembly is scheduled to be held in the fall of 2020 in Tokyo again if there is no significant change. The first and foremost objective is to gather more support from various organizations by again calling for those organizations who have not participated to participate and having a careful dialogue with those with misunderstanding to clear their misunderstanding. As mentioned in the beginning, people in Japan have little understanding of the actual situation and movements of Southern Mongolia. Thus, it is crucial to continue widely publicizing the issues through the internet and publication activities.
For that, the success of the Khuriltai assembly in Japan in the fall is indispensable. Khuriltai and supporters in Japan sincerely hope to have more exchanges with and cooperation from various organizations.