BEIJING, July 26: The 60 years since China set up the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region have been marked by environmental destruction, persecution and cultural assimilation and are not worth celebrating, an exiled group said on Thursday.
Inner Mongolia -- called Southern Mongolia by some dissidents -- was China's first autonomous region at a provincial level and is supposed to enjoy a high level of self government, much like Tibet and Xinjiang in the far west.
Inner Mongolia's governor, Yang Jing, said this week that the last 60 years had been ones of "ethnic unity and prosperity".
"based Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Centre.
"The Chinese came in and got everything while the Mongols lost everything including their basic human rights, fundamental freedom, culture, tradition, lifestyle, and the natural habitat where they maintained their distinct way of life for thousands of years," he said in an emailed statement to Reuters.
"This celebration is not only a justification of China's colonial occupation in Southern Mongolia but also (shows) the determination of China's continuing suppression against the Mongols," Togochog said.
Decades of migration by the dominant Han have made Chinese Mongolians a minority in their own land, officially comprising less than 20 percent of the almost 24 million population of the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region.
The government says it protects and promotes the rights and culture of the Mongolians.
But Beijing, sensitive about ethnic unrest in strategic border areas like Inner Mongolia and Tibet, keeps a tight rein on minorities.
Less is known about human rights issues in Inner Mongolia, as the Mongolians do not have well-known overseas advocates like Tibet's Dalai Lama or Rebiya Kadeer, the Nobel Peace Prize nominee called the "mother of the Uighur people".