Oct 24, 2016

Southern Mongolia: Community Herders Protest Pig Farm Project on Grazing Land

With the support of over 100 herders from the local community in East Inner Mongolia, a protest against a proposed pig farm project supported by Chinese authorities that threatens to destroy large tracts of grazing land has gathered pace. According to the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Centre (SMHRIC), the community has been showing bravery in defending their land - vital to the traditions of the southern Mongolians - against powerful Chinese corporate interests.

The article below is courtesy of Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Centre

Following a three-day protest, on October 21, 2016, more than 100 Mongolian herders from Sandag Gachaa (a Gachaa consists of several villages) of Hailas Township in eastern Southern (Inner) Mongolia’s Ongniud Banner gathered near the construction site of the China National Cereals, Oils and Foodstuffs Corporation (COFCO Group), urging the Chinese government to halt COFCO Group’s pig farm project that illegally occupied a large tract of local Mongolian herders’ grazing land.

Video clips and pictures the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center (SMHRIC) obtained from the local herders show the herders holding signs reading “Our land, our territory, inherited from our ancestors, must be inherited to our children and grandchildren!” and “We Mongolians are the strongest when we unite together!” The protestors repeatedly chanted, “never give up an inch of our land even if God begs for it!” a well-known motto generally credited to the Mongolian national hero Galdan Boshogt who fought to his death defending the western Mongolian Zungaar Empire from Manchu invasion.

According to a written statement from the affected herders in Sandag Gachaa to the Ongniud Banner People’s Government, 1,859.63 hectares of the best quality grazing land has been carved out of the Sandag Mongolian communities for a number of state-run corporations since the 1950s. In 2014, the Hailas Township government sold the land to COFCO Group without the local herders’ free, prior, and informed consent. As herders stood up to oppose the local authorities’ illegal land appropriation, clashes between the herders and local authorities have become increasingly frequent.

As China’s largest state-run food processing, manufacturing and trading company, COFCO Group has already launched the project for creating the “Technology Model Zone for Raising a Million Head of Pigs” on the confiscated land. “Not only is this a flagrant denial of our traditional pastoralist way of life,” a herder named Sarnaa told the SMHRIC, “but also this will bring a further destruction to the already devastated natural environment.”

“Kicked out from China’s Shandong province, this notorious COFCO Group is now stretching its dirty and long arms to Southern Mongolia,” Mr. Tungalag, a Mongolian from Ongniud Banner, rallied fellow Mongolians on WeChat, “let us all Mongolians from Ongniud Banner stand in solidarity with the herders to stage more protests if the local government does not respond to our demand.”

The protest started on October 17, 2016, when nearly 200 local Mongolian herders marched toward the COFCO pig farm construction site and blocked the road. The local authorities dispatched a dozen police vehicles with more than 400 riot police to put down the protest. Many were beaten, and at least three herders were arrested and detained.

Photo Courtesy of Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Centre