Inner Mongolian Tribe Prevents Private Takeover of Traditional Shrine

March 21, 2005

Appealing to rights provided in both national and international law, an Inner Mongolian tribe has halted, at least temporarily, the construction of a new Han Chinese-owned Genghis Khan theme park. The project would replace the traditional Genghis Khan Mausoleum overseen by the Darhad tribe since 1696. In an open letter presented to the local government this fall, a group of Darhad Mongols appealed to rights provided in the 1984 Regional Autonomy Law, United Nations regulations on the protection of cultural relics, copyright laws, and the PRC’s land law to bar the promoter from taking over the mausoleum.

The Dong Lian Company, a Han-owned business, evidently planned to triple the entrance fee and sell souvenirs such as Genghis Khan slippers. Article 9 of the Law of Regional Autonomy states that "discrimination against and oppression of any nationality shall be prohibited; any act which undermines the unity of the nationalities or instigates national division shall also be prohibited." The Darhads’ letter contends that "any disrespect and damage to the mausoleum should also be considered damage and disrespect not only to the Darhad, but also to the Ordos Mongols and to the world Mongol community…according to law, such insulting actions are punishable by law and the wrongdoers should be investigated for their culpability." The letter goes on to "emphasize that such people [the Han owners of Dong Lian Company] are not welcome in our land. We want them to leave as soon as possible and leave us Darhad Mongols in peace."