Last November, I wrote about T.S. Munkhbayar, a community leader in Mongolia whose efforts to protect his country from an explosion in mining helped spur the long-overdue regulation of mining companies. Munkhbayar was arrested then during a protest to proposed amendments to repeal these regulations.
Recently we heard the sad news that Munkhbayar and his fellow protesters have been sentenced to 21 years each for the accidental (the arresting officer is on record as acknowledging this) discharge of a weapon and the possession of guns (which is not unusual in Mongolia) at the protest, under the charge of terrorism.
We do not condone violence in any form. But I believe this long sentence is unjust for a group of activists protesting the dismantling of legal protections for their waterways and communities – the first of their kind, at a time when they are needed more than ever. It is more likely the sentence is retribution for Mr. Munhbayar’s long history of challenging environmentally destructive interests than because of any danger posed or law broken by Mr. Munkhbayar and his fellow activists.
The mining boom in Mongolia has occurred with little legal protections. With the arrest of TS Munkhbayar, who won the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize for his activism, it's more crucial then ever that the law Munkbhbayar worked tirelessly to pass does not get dismantled.
International support counts — make your voice heard. Please click here to urge the Mongolian Parliament to uphold this critical mining law and support Mr. Munkhbayar and his colleagues by demanding the correction of this travesty of justice.