On August 13, 2020, more than 300 Mongolian herders from Southern Mongolia’s Durbed Banner took to the streets of the banner capital to protest government-backed pig farming. At least three herdswomen were beaten by the police at the protest scene in front of the government building.
Holding long banners reading “No to pig farming on grasslands, no to destruction of natural environment,” herders shouted slogans in front of the government building: “We don’t want pig farms! We want our grasslands protected!”
Video clips the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center (SMHRIC) received from the protesters show that local police attempted to block the marching herders from entering the government premises and confiscated their banners.
“Police twisted our hands and confiscated our banners,” a herdswoman said in a cell phone video clip she took at the scene. “Two elderly ladies’ hands were badly injured, and I am in severe pain.”
According to a local herder at the protest named Hasbaatar, the Durbed Banner government recently made a deal with a Chinese investor to set up seven pig farms on the local herders’ grazing land without the free, prior, and informed consent of local Mongolian communities.
“As a result of our strong protest, all seven pig farms suspended their operations 70 days ago,” Mr. Hasbaatar said in an audio statement. “But three days ago, the largest of the seven resumed operation again. This is why we are here today to protest.”
As part of the larger campaign of eradicating the traditional Mongolian way of life in Southern Mongolia, the Chinese government has promoted large-scale pig farming on grasslands, sparking a series of protests in rural Mongolian pastoralist communities.