Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Political Prisoners Arrested for Silent Protest

Yesterday, on August 5, 2008, Ms. Saruul, leader of the Mongolian Green Movement, and Mr. Arslan, leader of the Just Citizens' Movement, were arrested by the police for staging a quiet protest by sitting on the Sukhbaatar Square to demand that the authorities release over 200 political prisoners arrested during and after the election riots of July 1-2 and that the government get to the bottom of the shooting and killing unarmed citizens on the night of July 1.

This past month, since the announcement of the State of Emergency in response to preventable violence outside the former communist party building on July 1-2, has been characterised by outright violations of civic and political rights of citizens, arbitrary actions by the police, political persecution of opposition leaders, and media censorship despite the lifting of the state of emergency.

We are calling on all partners inside and outside Mongolia to support non-partisan civil society action for human rights of Mongolian citizens, especially our civic and political rights and demand that the government immediately cease political persecution of innocent citizens, opposition leaders and civil society activists.

Undarya Tumursukh

Asian Focal Point for the International Civil Society Forum for Democracy

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

International support for The Coalition

A number of organisations have expressed their support for The Coalition and their statement of July 6th regarding reports of human rights violations during and following the state of emergency in Mongolia (see below).

These organisation are:

Taiwan Association for Human Rights (TAHR)
Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK), Bangladesh
Women's Rehabilitation Centre (WOREC), Nepal
People's Watch, India
Gabriela Women's Party, Philippines
Asian Pacific Forum on Women Law and Development (APWLD)
Asia-Japan Women's Resource Centre, Japan
Community Trust Fund, Sri Lanka
Korea Women's Hot Line, Korea
Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
Human Rights Centre Citizens against corruption, Kyrgyzstan
Institute of Peace and Democracy, Azerbaijan
Foundation for Women, Law and Rural Development (FORWARD), Thailand
Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), India
National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP), Pakistan
Tibetan UN Advocacy, Switzerland
Centre for Organisation Research and Education (CORE)
Odhikar, Bangladesh
Commitee for Asian Women (CAW)

Monday, July 7, 2008

HRSEMPC Statement - reports of human rights violations

Human Rights under State of Emergency Monitoring and Protection Coalition


July 6, 2008 Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

The history of humankind has demonstrated time and time again that the likelihood of serious human rights violations is increased during a state of emergency. In light of this, over 20 human rights NGOs formed a coalition and pulled their resources to monitor human rights violations, prevent further violence and inform the public during the 4 day state of emergency that was announced on the night of July 1, 2008 following the election protests that took place in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

Over 100 people including lawyers, defense attorneys, psychologists, social workers, students and other human rights activists came together on a voluntary basis and conducted monitoring and fact-finding activities on the situation of the 718 detainees arrested during the state of emergency. At the same time, coalition members have also begun to provide legal counseling, relevant information and other services to the detainees and their families.

Within the framework of this monitoring, the coalition members visited the detention sites and hospitals, and met with relevant authorities, the arrested, the injured and their family members. Information collected through interviews, supported by audio and visual documentation, demonstrates that the following violations of human rights and international conventions, to which Mongolia is a signatory, were committed in the process of the organization and implementation of the President’s Decree on Announcing the State of Emergency:

  • Complete and timely measures were not taken to inform citizens who were unable to receive information through radio and television about the announcement of the state of emergency
  • The police and army corps were not provided with guidelines on how to perform the arrests in compliance with relevant laws and regulations
  • In violation of the law, the police and army corps performed a mass arrest, using excessive force, severely beating and injuring people
  • The detainees were kept in conditions that do not satisfy minimum standards. In particular:

    • 30-50 people were kept in a small room of about 20 square meters, without sufficient air, people were also kept en masse in a detention center garage
    • Children and women were kept with adult men
    • The detention rooms did not satisfy minimum health and hygiene standards
    • The detainees were not allowed access to toilet facilities, which resulted in damage to their health
    • The detainees were not provided with necessary nutrition. For example, in some detention sites, people were not given food or water for a whole day while in other sites they were given a small piece of cookie with tap water on the first day and chloramine-tainted tea on the second day.
    • People who required medical attention were not provided with necessary assistance.

  • During the mass arrests, the Law on Criminal Procedure was seriously violated. In particular:

    • The detainees were not informed of their rights or the reason for their arrest
    • The families were not immediately notified about the arrests
    • During the arrests and the interrogations, the police did not inform citizens of their basic rights such as the right to have a lawyer present and the right not to testify against oneself
    • People with disabilities and children were interrogated without the presence of a parent, legal guardian, representative or lawyer
    • The detainees were forced to give and sign statements under torture and duress
    • Television footage is being used as stand-alone evidence and repeatedly broadcast on the Mongolian National Public Television and Radio.

As a result of the above violations, the detainees and their family members and friends have suffered severe psychological damage over and above significant material losses. Even after 5 days have passed since the initial arrests, there are over 70 people who have not been located and their family and friends are still looking for them.

Given these serious and numerous violations of international human rights laws such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Pact on Civil and Political Rights, Rome Statute on the International Criminal Court, and the International Convention against Torture and Inhuman Treatment, the Constitution of Mongolia and the Law of Mongolia on Criminal Procedure, lead us to conclude that the on-going interrogation process is illegal.

Basic human rights principles, which dictate that no one may be subjected to torture, inhuman treatment, humiliation and cruel punishment, must be strictly followed at all times. Violation of these principles can not be justified under any circumstances. Therefore, we demand that egregious violations of human rights and freedoms be stopped immediately.

The temporary closure of all broadcast media with the exception of the Mongolian National Public Radio and Television resulted in a dire lack of objective and timely information. In the context of an already distressed and anxious public, this unbalanced and one-sided information further increased people’s fears and severely undermined their trust in state protection. These events have clearly demonstrated the fragility of Mongolia’s democratic institutions and the weaknesses of Mongolia’s national human rights protection mechanisms.

For these reasons we call on the government, political parties, citizens and civil society organizations to make a concerted effort to resolve the current situation peacefully, based on human rights, to restore and protect the rights of our citizens who have been affected by the mass arrests, and to strengthen human rights guarantees in Mongolia. It is of vital importance that we work together to protect and ensure fundamental human rights in Mongolia.

Center for Human Rights and Development

Law and Human Rights Center

National Center against Violence

Open Society Forum

Globe International

Philanthropy for Development Center

Mongolian Women’s Fund

Step by Step NGO

“Let’s Develop” Club

Amnesty International Mongolia

Citizen D.Lamjav

Mongolian Women’s Federation

Mongolian Men’s Association

“Mongolian Family” Psychotherapy Association

National Federation of Disabled Citizens’ Unions

Association for Family Wellbeing

Center for Citizens’ Alliance

Liberty Center

Asian Focal Point for the International Civil Society Forum for Democracy

Friday, July 4, 2008

Korean-Mongolian Democracy Cooperation Team express concern on state of human rights after the emergency situation in Mongolia

Statement from the Korea-Mongolia Democracy Cooperation Team

Korean-Mongolian Democracy Cooperation Team Express concern on Post-election Conflict in Mongolia

July 4th, 2008

We, the Korean-Mongolian Democracy Cooperation Team are deeply concerned about the current political situation in Mongolia following the parliamentary election on June 29th 2008. As we observed the political and social turmoil during the stay in Mongolia, we found out that this is not only the problem of political corruption, but also the problem of growing rich and poor divide.

Eruption of violence after the public protest against fraudulent election has leaved several people dead and many people injured. We believe that suppressing the protesters by Mongolian government and banning all the media except the Mongolian Public Radio and TV will deteriorate the political development and human rights.

We, Korean-Mongolian Democracy Cooperation Team would like to endorse the other pro-Democracy NGOs in Mongolia that are now struggling for the fair election, political development and human rights in Mongolia.

UN Human Right's Office concerned for detainees

Media release from the United Nations Human Rights Office regarding the state of emergency in Mongolia.

United Nations human rights office concerned about developments in Mongolia

July 3rd, 2008

GENEVA-- The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on Thursday expressed concerns about developments in Mongolia, where a four-day state of emergency was imposed on 1 July 2008 following post-electoral violence. There have been reports of at least five deaths, numerous injuries and around 700 protestors detained.

OHCHR called upon the authorities to exercise the utmost restraint, to ensure that due process is followed in the case of any detentions, and that the incidents leading to deaths and injuries be properly investigated.

Mongolia is party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which stipulates that fundamental rights, such as the right to life, the prohibition on torture and cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment, cannot be suspended even in times of emergency. Any restrictions of other rights in such circumstances must be officially proclaimed and may only be applied to the extent and duration strictly warranted by the circumstances.

WFDA urge Mongolian government to uphold fundamental human rights

Statement from the World Forum on Democratization in Asia regarding post election conflict in Mongolia.

Asian Democrats express concern about Post-election conflict in Mongolia

3rd July, 2008

The World Forum on Democratization in Asia (WFDA) is gravely concerned about recent developments in Mongolia following the parliamentary elections on 29 June, notably the eruption of violence among protests of alleged election fraud and the imposition on 1 July of a four-day state of emergency by President Nambariin Enkhbayar in the capital of Mongolia, Ulaanbataar.

Although Mongolia’s General Election Committee has yet to report the final results, preliminary results suggest that the ruling Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party (MPRP) has won a significant majority in the 76-seat parliament. However, allegations of fraud have been raised by opposition parties and some independent candidates. An initially peaceful protest quickly deteriorated into a violent confrontation between angry young men and police outside MPRP headquarters.

WFDA firmly repudiates the violent acts carried out by all those involved in Monday’s bloody confrontation, which resulted in at least five deaths and 300 injuries. We are particularly disturbed by reports that party leaders on both sides may have had a hand in the provocation of violence, as well as allegations that the police did not take effective steps to calm the situation at an early stage. WFDA calls on all political actors to exercise restraint and cease incitement of their supporters, and urges security forces to fulfill their obligation to preserve and protect the fundamental rights of the Mongolian public.

We are also concerned about the widespread allegations of electoral fraud, and we call on the General Election Committee and related authorities to investigate all credible accusations thoroughly and impartially. If necessary, the Committee should delay the publication of final results to allow these investigations to be carried out properly. Such steps are urgently needed to address voters’ legitimate concerns and to restore confidence in the election process.

Finally, we also urge the Mongolian government to continue to uphold fundamental human rights during the current state of emergency, including the rights of the more than 700 people detained in connection with these events, who are reportedly at risk of inhumane treatment. In addition, we call on President Enkhbayar to lift the ban on all radio and television channels other than Mongolian National Public Radio and Television. In this critical period, media and civil society groups must, if anything, redouble their efforts to hold the government and security forces accountable.

The post-election turmoil reveals the deep-seated problems of Mongolia’s young democracy. Therefore, WFDA strongly supports continued efforts by Mongolian civil society organizations to protect and promote democracy, human rights, and peace in Mongolia.

Statement to the Directors of the Mongolian National Public Radio and Television - please be objective

The following is a statement made by seven Human Rights NGOs to the Directors of the Mongolian National Public Radio and Television.

Human Rights NGOs’ Statement

July 1, 2008

To: Mr. Naranbaatar, General Director, Mongolian National Public Radio and Television

Mr. Munkhbaatar, Director, Mongolian National Public Television

Mr. Purevdash, Director, Mongolian National Public Radio

At this time when all radio and television channels except for the Mongolian National Public Radio and Television have been temporarily shut down in connection to the declaration of the State of Emergency, it is ever more important that the MNRTV dutifully carry out its responsibility to serve the people’s interests.

During this critical time when the anger and frustration of people accumulated as a result of over 10 years of injustice, corruption and electoral fraud have peaked to the point of violent outbursts, further provoked by the illegal proceedings of the most recent national election, the MNTRTV should:

- operate with full understanding of its role as an organization “whose sole duty is to serve the interests of the public, which is accountable to the public and conducts its activities under the public oversight”

- strictly follow its basic principles of operation and “be independent, respect citizens’ right to obtain information, respect plurality of opinion and transparency, and put common national interests above those of economic entities, organizations, officials, individuals and political parties”

- and conduct its operations according to Article 9.1 of the Law on National Public Radio and Television, which states that “the programming of the public radio and television must contain truthful and objective information, be professionally developed, not be one-sided, strictly abide by the journalists’ code of ethics and be timely.”

That the MNRTV operates strictly according to these principles and legal provisions is of crucial importance for restoring peace, preventing further violations of human rights, and resolving the conflicts through peaceful means while maintaining national unity.

We are deeply worried that in the last few days, MNTV programming has been markedly one-sided and biased in favor of the power-holders. We hope the MNTV shall correct this mistake immediately for the benefit of the people of Mongolia and perform its public duty with honor, according to the law and constitutional principles.

Center for Citizens’ Alliance

Center for Human Rights and Development

National Center against Violence

Center for Human Rights and Law

Mongolian Women’s Fund

“Tsekh” Constitutional Watchdog NGO

Asian Focal Point for International Civil Society Forum for Democracy