Mongolian Government Rebuts Charge that Privatization Law is Discriminatory
When describing the protest organized by the so-called Movement for Fair Privatization of Land, Oyungerel asserts that farmers would be adversely affected in case a recently adopted land privatization law takes effect. First of all, let me tell you that the author does not seem to know the law she is criticizing.
The land privatization act stipulates that every Mongolian citizen has the right to receive a certain amount of land free of charge. In urban and provincial centers, this amount is 0.35 hectares, while in soums (smaller administrative units) and villages, the size of land to be given for free is 0.5 hectares. IN addition, the law grants special privileges to those farmers who worked the land for many years, which means that they will be in a more advantaged position when it comes to the issue of privatization of farmland.
Therefore, a claim that farmers will be disadvantaged by the law is not true. The leaders of the Movement for Fair Privatization of Land thus organized the November protest in order to pursue their own political goals, misinterpreting the law, which has not even taken effect. In fact, some of the farmers who came to Ulaanbaatar decided to leave after realizing the real situation, confessing that the movement's activists urged them to come to the city, promising to provide compensation for all expenses.
Furthermore, the EurasiaNet story talks about the misconduct of law-enforcement officials and the alleged undemocratic actions on the part of the government. The author doubts the government's commitment to democratic principles. But isn't the rule of law one of the cornerstones of a democratic society? It is undoubted that citizens have the right to freely express their views, but even in established democracies, people who want to stage a demonstration receive an authorization for doing that.
The protesters who came to the Sukhbaatar Square, though, had prior knowledge that it is prohibited to mount a demonstration there, but went ahead with it. They received a notification from the district governor to stop the protest, but decided to disregard it. Moreover, they broke traffic regulations, refused to present ID documents and showed disrespect for law enforcement officials.
Oyungerel claims that "present leaders of the MPRP managed to use such force against their people that was not used even by their hard communist predecessors." Then what about the Boshigt movement, which was dispersed by force in 1998 by those who are calling themselves democrats? Similarly, the demonstrators gathered on the Sukhbaatar Square, and similarly, the police was called on to make the protesters leave.
The author says that around 3,000 people gathered to complain about the government's actions. Well, being an eyewitness, I doubt that the number even reached 1,000. Furthermore, she asserts that "most major mass media outlets are controlled by the state," which is not true. EAGLE TV and MN-25 support the opposition. The Mongolian National TV, the objectiveness of which is doubted in the story, provides each party that has a seat in the parliament with air time to promote their views. So, the assertion that the government is manipulating media is unsubstantiated.
One of the founders of the Democratic Coalition D.Ninj held a press conference today at the Press Institute, accusing the leadership of the Democratic Party of betraying the spirit of democracy. According to him, democratic forces in Mongolia did not support the action of the movement for Fair Privatization of Land that urged farmers to stage their protest on the Sukhbaatar Square. The leader of the movement, E.Bat-Uul, is pursuing his own narrow ambitions and interests, said Mr.Ninj. The Democratic Party no longer represents the interests of the people, but has become a party that promotes the interests of a small group of people and is mired in nepotism. He then urged the current leadership of the Democratic Party to leave and make room for young, sound-minded people.
Tsolomon Bold works in the press service of the Mongolian government.