Reporting from Beijing — Chinese authorities Sunday blanketed volatile towns in Inner Mongolia with armed police, blocked Internet and telephone connections, and confined students to their campuses and activists to their homes in an effort to forestall protests scheduled Monday over the death of a Mongolian herder during a confrontation over land use.
The killing of the herder, allegedly run over May 10 by truck drivers who were transporting coal across pastoral lands, triggered the largest demonstrations in decades in the Chinese province. In an effort to calm tensions, the Inner Mongolia Communist Party chief, Hu Chunhua, reportedly met with students Friday and promised that two Chinese suspects who were arrested would face a speedy trial.
"Teachers and students, please rest assured that the suspects will be punished severely and quickly, in accordance with legal procedures, to resolutely safeguard the dignity of the law and rights of the victims and their families," he was quoted as saying in Sunday's issues of the state-run Inner Mongolia Daily.
Mongolian activists are calling for demonstrations Monday outside Chinese embassies and consulates around the world and are predicting more protests in areas of Inner Mongolia that saw demonstrations last week. The largest were in the city of Xilinhot and in the county seats of Zhenglan and Xiwu, also known as Shuluun Huh and Ujumchin in the Mongolian language.