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Huveet_Shar_10Dharamshala: Wednesday May 25, more than 2000 ethnic Mongolian protesters marched to the Chinese government building in the North-western city of Xilinhot, in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region (IMAR).

The protest was spurred by the killing of a Mongolian herder by a Chinese truck-driver following disputes over access to pastures which are being used as road-ways for trucks transporting coal for the growing coal-industry in Inner Mongolia.

Three herders and one student were reportedly beaten severely during the protests and their whereabouts are presently unknown.

The protesters, who were mainly students, demanded they be treated equal to the growing number of ethnic Han Chinese who now make up the majority of the population in the region, with only an estimated 17 percent of Inner Mongolia's 23 million people being of Mongolian ethnicity.

Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center (SMHRIC) write on their website that after the Chinese government announced IMAR to be the "energy base of China", hundreds of coal mines have been opened in the Southern Mongolian grasslands, and as a result more than 250.000 Mongolian nomads have been displaced.

Officially, the herders and their families are being relocated under the guise of protecting the grasslands, but SMHRIC write that many grazing pastures have been destroyed by the coal industry and livestock has been killed.

On May 10, as frustrated herders organized to block Chinese mining trucks from passing through their grazing land, Murgen, one of the organizers of the Mongolian herders, was killed by a coal-truck driver who deliberately charged straight into the road-block set up by the herders.

Subsequently, local government authorities tried to appease Mergen's family with a large sum of cash, but this only further angered the herders as they demanded the truck driver be charged with murder in accordance with the law. More than 300 armed police were then deployed as the local authorities anticipated protests by the herder's organization.

"Hotels were searched at midnight by the Public Security Bureau personnel for herders possibly hiding to join any protest; Mongolian students were locked up in their schools, and campuses are heavily guarded by police," a Mongolian blogger wrote.

Despite their efforts, however, Chinese authorities were not able to hinder the protests, and instead they met the protests with promises to redress the case of Mergen, handle the case where local herders had a deadly clash with Chinese miners and to allow government-run local media to report on the cases.

According to SMHRIC, the students then agreed to return to their schools, but as the protesting Mongolians await the fulfillment of promises by Chinese authorities, calls have been made on the internet for a major demonstration on May 30.