Protest on horseback in Ulan-Bator

herdsman1

Central Square of the capital city is more crowded than usual for the last ten days. United under the moto «Save the Nation», members of three civil movements — United Movement for Rivers and Lakes , Khuder River, and Gal Undesten — started to converge on Sukhbaatar Square since April 19th with 100 horsemen and horse carts and erected eight gers (yurts) there. Most of them are herders, who have come on horseback from countryside to demand stopping of mining activities that destroys their pastureland and water sources.
All the members had their heads bound in bands and held sign boards with the slogans «We want resignation of the Government!», «Give power to the People!». The movement wants a national discussion on the present situation, resignation of the Government, and dissolution of Parliament. Moreover, they already have the anthem «Wake up Mongols», which has been playing all day at the Sukhbaatar Square.
According to an activist of the movement there are about 400 people from different soums (counties) of 18 provinces participating in this civil movement to protect their living areas. They are calling out people to join and to involve in the movement at the Sukhbaatar Square. Both the assembly and the putting up of gers in Sukhbaatar Square are in violation of orders, but the gers are still there. Another 300 horsemen are on their way to Ulaanbaatar from the western provinces to join those already here.

The UB Post interviewed some of protesters for details-Please introduce yourself and explain what’s happening here?
-Well, I am a member of the movement Gal Undesten. We gathered at the Sukhbaatar Square to demand the Government to resign and the dissolution of the Parliament.-When did the demonstration start and when will it end?
-It started officially on April 19th at the Sukhbaatar Square. And we will stand firm and protest till the government give power to the people.-What’s your reason and goal?
-Our Mongolia’s vast territory is rich with mineral resources like Oyu-tolgoi and Tavan-Tolgoi on the south, Khushuut on the west, uranium and oil on the east. But these natural resources are becoming the property of foreigners, our country’s territory is shrinking from all sides and is being ruined everywhere.

Social life is dying down entirely, fundamental factors of our nation’s existence are vanishing because of those cheating authorities who are selling national treasures to foreigners. Mongolia is facing serious danger that cannot be fixed. That’s why our Gal Undesten Movement is appealing to all Mongolians to wake up from the dream and save our country and our lives when it is not too late.

-Why did you bring horses?
-With our horses we wanted to show how serious this movement is. About 400 herders came from 18 provinces to support this civil movement. They represent the citizens of the countryside. We have been protecting our homeland and ground for centuries.

But, day by day our living environment is getting worse and we can’t just sit doing nothing. We can’t stand it any longer. We want people to take this movement more seriously. On the other hand, it won’t be easy for authorities and the police to dissolve us if we are on horseback and not on foot.

-What are those two separate gers for?
-We are receiving cash donations from the people here. Donated money will be spent for saving the nature and land damaged by mining activities.

Source: UB Post Apr. 26, 2011