Mongolia, a nation bordered by China and Russia, has 1.5 million sq.km. and nearly 3 million people. It is known for vast, rugged expanses and nomadic culture. Its capital is Ulaanbaatar. Due to its richness in minerals, Mongolia has become a target for more and more international mining companies. In the last decades, more and more mines have been opened with little regard toward the detrimental effects of such activities, both towards the environment and the local people –especially pastoralists who keep their heds on land held in common. In 2001 the Onggi River Movement (ORM) appeared, considered the first grassroots movement of resistance to mining in Mongolia. By 2006 the Mongolian Nature Protection Coalition (MNPC) was formed, which brought together the ORM and 11 other organizations. It later split and other coalitions appeared .
Also in 2006, the Asia foundation enabled the formation of a Multistakeholder on Responsible Mining (MSF), bringing together the different actors involved and affected by mining activities. However, the forum did not last: some members departed after the MNPC split in 2008.
The Law with the Long Name –as Mongolians call it- was written in 2009 to protect 25 % of the country’s ecosystems, mainly rivers and forested areas, from mining activities. The law was adopted after a hunger strike organized in front of the Parliament. Yet, implementation was not enforced due to pressures by international mining companies . Different protests took place by the United Movement of Mongolian Movements and Lakes (UMMRL) –the most radical group that emerged from the split of the MNPC-, including a horse riding protest in April 2011. Finally during 2011 and 2012 the LLN was used to deny mining licenses. The increasing difficulties faced by international investors led to renewed pressure to the government, who responded with a proposal to revise the LLN. At the same time, conflicts were reported between people in the countryside and mining enterprises. On the 16th of September 2013, Munkhbayar –the founder of ORM and Goldman Environmental Price in 2007- brought a petition to the Parliament and activists from different coalitions protested in front of it. Munkhbayar and many others were arrested and condemned to prison .
The UMMRL was not invited in the negotiations to introduce changes to the LLN and the government refused to share with them the draft. In response, the coalition organized silent protests in front of the Parliament. The government put pressure on journalists to avoid any kind of reporting of the silent protests and filtered any kind of information regarding the process .
In February 2015, 9 activists began a hunger-strike to avoid the changes on the LLN to be applied. They received support from different political parties and organizations but, nevertheless, the amendments where approved. In addition, more than 20 thousand citizens signed and handed in a petition to the government demanding them to protect Mongolian ecosystems. Different eyewitness testified the use of violence by the Mongolian police who finally dissolved the protest and forced the hunger-strikers to go to hospital.
At the end of 2015, Munkhbayar was released on bail, together with 3 other activists.
In March 2016, around 2000 demonstrators gathered at the Freedom Square, Ulaanbaatar, to demand a dissolution of the Parliament after it had passed on foreign mining concessions.