Nearly 400 ethnic Mongolian former students in China’s northern Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region have protested in front of a government building after authorities reneged on an agreement to provide them with jobs, an overseas rights group said, in the latest show of unrest in the region.
Graduates of the Tongliao Normal (Teacher’s) School, many of whom matriculated between 1998 and 2003, gathered at the doors of the Tongliao Municipality Government building on July 18, demanding a meeting with the governor of the municipality, according to the U.S.-based Southern Mongolia Human Rights Information Center (SMHRIC).
“During the protest, representatives from the protesters attempted to walk into the government building … but they were immediately stopped by police and security personnel,” SMHRIC said in a statement.
The rights group said it received a written communication from the protesters claiming that before their enrollment, all students were required to enter into an agreement with the banner (prefectural) government educational bureau and the local schools to guarantee that they would work for the school after their graduation.
But according to the protesters, of the more than 2,500 graduates between 1998 and 2003, the majority never received offers of employment.
“Except for very few Chinese students who had connections and money, all of our Mongolian students have never been offered any employment opportunity,” SMHRIC quoted a protester surnamed Altan as saying in a telephone interview.
“The government lied to us. They are breaking their promises and denying our rights to employment.”
The former students said they have petitioned the banner government and the Tongliao Municipal Government several times since 2008, but have only been told to “wait” in response.
Last October, more than 100 female graduates who held a sit-in protest in front of the same municipal government building were severely beaten by police, SMHRIC said.
The rights group quoted an anonymous Mongolian protester who said the former students had petitioned the government “dozens of times.”
“This July alone, we have already been there to protest three times separately on July 4, July 11, and July 18. We are frustrated and have lost faith with the authorities,” the protester said.
The principal of Tongliao Normal School, surnamed Buyan, said that the government could not fulfill its promise because the consolidation of rural Mongolian schools, coupled with an increased drop-out rate, led to the elimination of a large number of teacher positions.