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UNHCR Employee Admits Ulaanbaatar Office's Role in the Arrest and Deportation of an Asylum Applicant, Deportee Suggests UNHCR Provided Asylum Seeker's Information to the Chinese Government

April 03, 2011
New York


Anaraa Nyamdorj, an employee of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) at the Ulaanbaatar Liaison Office in Mongolia, stated in her personal blog that the UNHCR Regional Office instructed her to disclose personal information about Batzangaa (written Batuzhangga on his Chinese passport), an asylum applicant with UNHCR, to the Mongolian police.

In her personal blog article entitled “Bi” (means “I”) in Cyrillic Mongolian, Anaraa Nyamdorj also revealed that the UNHCR Regional Office instructed her to let Batzangaa meet with Chinese and Mongolian police agents. “As instructed, I called Batzangaa [to my office], and orally presented the negative decision to him,” Anaraa wrote on her blog.

As a result, Batzangaa was handed over by another UNHCR employee named Erdenbulgan of the same office to the Chinese secret agent dispatches and the Mongolian police at the front entrance of the UNHCR Ulaanbaatar Liaison Office in Mongolia. Shortly after, Batzangaa’s wife Bayanhuaar and their nine year old daughter Chailgan who were in hiding were summoned from their apartment and arrested by the Chinese Mongolian joint police team. 

On the following day, October 4, 2009, Batzangaa along with his wife and daughter were deported back to China.

On January 27, 2011, after a long detention and house arrest, Batzangaa was sentenced to 3 years in jail with 4 years reprieve by the Chinese authorities on a charge of “diverting a special fund”. Currently, Batzangaa is free on bail pending appeal. Batzangaa and his attorney Huhbulag pleaded not guilty and are under the process of appealing to the higher court in Ordos Municipality, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, China.

In order to clarify some points made by Anaraa in her blog articles, the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center (SMHRIC) interviewed Batzangaa on March 20, 2011, for the second time. The following inconsistencies are found between what Anaraa stated on her blog and what Batzangaa told SMHRIC over the phone:

1. Regarding whether an official written denial of asylum application was given to Batzangaa:

Anaraa states: “I gave him a copy of written document and kept a copy with his signature”.

Batzangaa says: “No, no written denial was given to me. I was asked to sign on a paper written in English. They did not explain anything to me about that paper”.

2. Regarding whether Anaraa cried loudly while she was typing on the computer knowing that Batzangaa was to be deported:

Anaraa states: “I cried loudly when I was typing his appeal in Cryllic Mongolian Script”.

Batzangaa says: “No. She is lying. She never cried at least in front of me at her office.”

3. Regarding whether Anaraa recommended Batzangaa to not leave Mongolia:

Anaraa states: “I told him, ‘try your best to stay here [Mongolia] until you get the decision on your appeal’”.

Batzangaa says: “No, she did not say that. Instead she said, ‘we will pay attention to you after you are deported back to China’”.

The following consistency was found between what Anaraa stated on her blog and what Batzangaa told SMHRIC:

Regarding whether the UNHCR Regional Office stopped Batzangaa from publicizing his case to the international community via news media:

Anaraa states: “His [Batzangaa’s] attempts to publicize what happened to him to the international news media were ‘successfully’ stopped several times by the Regional Office [of UNHCR]”.

Batzangaa says: “Yes, regarding this point, what Anaraa said is true. I was called to the Ulaanbaatar Liaison Office several times on this matter when I was in Mongolia. Judging from the unusual delay on the decision of my asylum application, I sensed that there must be something going on in the background. Therefore I tried to publicize my case to the international community for possible support. However, UNHCR, in particular an African nationality employee called me to his office several times and suggested to me not to publicize my case. I am sorry that I can’t recall his name. I am very bad at remembering foreigners’ names. I remember he was an African and he had a separate office within the UNHCR Ulaanbaatar Liaison Office. A reporter from Reuters with a Chinese name of Han Biru knows about this, because she was interested in reporting on this. But the report never went out largely due to UNHCR’s efforts to stop it.”

Batzangaa also stated that both the Ulaanbaatar Liaison Office and the Regional Office of UNHCR have most likely been covertly exchanging personal information about asylum applicants with the governments concerned.

“If you look at the reasons for denial presented to me orally by Anaraa, it is very clear that UNHCR has been communicating with the Chinese Government about my case. In particular, one of the three reasons for the denial of my asylum application was that I ‘was a Permanent Committee member of the Ordos Mongolian Medical Association’. I have never mentioned this to anybody in UNHCR or anybody in Mongolia, considering this was irrelevant to my case. But the question is, how did the UNHCR find this out? Isn’t it clear that UNHCR had good communications with the Chinese authorities on my case?” Batzangaa told SMHRIC over the phone.


The following is an English translation of Anaraa’s original blog article:


Sunday, Feb 13, 2011
Anaraa Nyamdorj

My name and my father’s name continue to appear on all kinds of websites. Lies, slanders, wild accusations, attacks and hateful comments regarding my reputation as a human rights defender go on and on. One ignorant person read them and went so far as to say that I should be “killed”. I and my fellow LGBTers know that these are not just words suggesting violence. They’ve gone so far as to call me a “Chinese bastard”. Regarding my genealogy, you can ask Tumuriin Haltar of the Olhonuud Clan who worked for the Committee for Resettling the Persecuted for a long time, and examine my certificate of marriage. Ask about the history of my mother and father who were both persecuted during the 1930s. Some might have said that I handed over a brother Mongol to the Chinese in exchange of 5 million yuan. If that’s the case, check my and my wife’s bank account, and pay attention to the fact that we rented apartments in different places for many years. Take note of the fact that I and my wife who always contributed from our own salaries to the work dedicated to the LGBT, we haven’t even been able to save a 30% down-payment [of our house] after many years of hard work. “I” is Anaraa Nyamdorj of Olhonuud Clan, born in December 1976, to the too-patriotic mother Horchinjabiin Tsendmaa from Bayantes, Zavhan Province, who suggested raising the cashmere sector among other national industries during the 1990 and the “can’t-be-silent” father from Darbii, Hovd Province, who had his too-obedient journalists beaten up and yelled at many times by uneducated ignorant people. My father’s younger brother Tumuriin Purevdorj was the first commander of the Mongolian Air Force who unfortunately died in a plane crash while he was training on one of the only two supersonic jets of Mongolia in the 1980s. My grandmother’s older brother was Balziinyam who was the first Mongolian to meet with the Queen of England during the 1960s. In spite of the fact that I was educated in many different Russian schools and lived outside my mother country for seven years I have been almost too patriotic thanks to those people mentioned above among whom I was raised and educated. I love my country as I do myself but my love for a foreign woman is even more than for my own life. I came back to my country with my wife not due to nationalism but due to my patriotism to contribute to the development of Mongolia. I am sure the majority of the Mongolian population knows that I am the first lesbian from Mongolia who officially married her wife in Canada. People who know me well know that I am an honest person who is not afraid to speak whatever she thinks. My acquaintances should know that I have dedicated the past ten some years of my life to work for the rights of the LGBT community both home and abroad. Some even know that my wife, colleague Suhee, and Amelia who worked on my documentary film were targeted by the Dayaar Mongol members and narrowly escaped being kidnapped by them during broad daylight on March 6, 2010 near the National Department Store. LGBT people should know that I saved the lives of Enhriimaa and Hulan from the hands of the Dayaar Mongol and assisted them to flee Mongolia. People should also know that I effectively worked with and for refugees. But people might not know that I and my wife’s personal safety are under serious threat. A humiliating event that took place in October 2009 opened the door to the violation of my and my wife’s basic rights. The UNHCR Regional Office has not released any information about the event, making the already-confused Mongolian citizens who heavily rely on the Internet more confused. I think I need to tell people what exactly happened in case anything happens to me and my wife, an Australian citizen.

On May 29, 2009, a Southern (Inner) Mongolian man came to our UNHCR office with his wife and daughter. He was neither a human rights defender nor a democratic activist. He was just an ordinary young man who studied traditional medicine in Huhnuur Province (of China). He created the first Mongol-Tibetan medical school in his home place and trained hundreds of students. However, due to issues related to the name of the school he was running, the local authorities considered him someone who has a political opinion and shutdown and disbanded his school. Thinking that his life is under threat he crossed the border into Mongolia. As I was the person who registered him and his wife as asylum applicants and helped translate during his asylum interviews from the very beginning to the end, I knew that he should be accepted as an asylee. However, the decision on his asylum application was delayed and delayed by the (UNHCR) Regional Office. His attempts to publicize what happened to him to the international news media were “successfully” stopped several times by the Regional Office. My heart was broken when I saw him. Yet, the decision never arrived. During this period, knowing that persecuting ethnic minorities is a policy in his home country (China), I told the representative from the United Nations Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNOHCHR) covering Northeastern Asia when he visited Mongolia about what had happened to this individual. I had the representative talk to the asylum applicant over the phone on October 1, 2009. Just two days after this, on October 3, 2009, an unjust event took place, making me lose faith in the United Nations. I never cried as loudly as this before. September 20, 2009, I was summoned to the Criminal Police authorities [of Mongolia]. When I asked about the reason why I was called, they [Criminal Police] yelled at me and told me that I must hand over the asylum applicant [Batzangaa] to them because they claimed a person who is wanted by their home country should not be protected by the United Nations, and Mongolia is not a sanctuary that harbors criminals. When I told them that “if he is wanted then you should show me your Interpol identification paper”, they gave me tons of excuses. They said, “just give us his residential address”. “The Regional Office will clarify this issue. During this time you should place your official request,” I told them before I went back to my office and talked to the Regional Office over the phone about this. [The Regional Office] told me, “Give his home address to them [Criminal Police] because you should have done so long ago”. I ignored this order and decided to keep quiet until the decision is made. At this moment, the police who yelled at me an hour ago came in with an official summons, tapped my desk loudly and said, “now give me his home address”. When he was yelling at me, I felt that my decision was right because judging from their attitude towards me I could see that they were capable of doing anything to my asylum applicant. I then convinced him to leave by telling him “please understand that it will take several days for the Regional Office to make the decision”. However, I heard on the next morning that some officials concerned talked to my coworker and asked him to hand the asylum applicant over to them immediately on October 2, around 6:00 PM. On the following morning, I heard that the Regional Office made an immediate decision stating that [Batzangaa] is not an asylee on the same evening or the evening of October 2, 2009, upon accepting “it is the case since this was requested by a so high ranking official”. On October 3, 2009, around 11:00 AM, I met with the official concerned as summoned. He repeated what was said earlier, “Mongolia is not a country that harbors criminals. Your office (UNHCR) will be kicked out of Mongolia if you provide protections to this type of people”. I told them several times that even if there is any wrongdoing or crime it should be decided by the court. They just ignored what I said. I explained to him, “The initial decision was made by the Regional Office last night. Only request from our side is that the applicant should be given sufficient time to complete the appeal process. At least we need a month”. “Just let him meet with the police and secret agents from his country today. You can even be with him there,” they replied. I telephoned the Regional Office and told them what they said. The Regional Office told me, “You should not be there at their meeting. But get the appeal letter and let the asylum applicant meet with them”. As instructed [by the Regional Office], I called the asylum applicant [to my office], and orally presented the negative decision to him. I gave him a copy of the written document and kept a copy with his signature. The authorities kept calling us, “How is it going? Let him meet with them as soon as possible. We sent our car there and they’re waiting for him in the car”. The asylum applicant was still writing his appeal in the Uyghurjin Mongolian Script. My heart was broken as I knew what awaits him in his home country. The appeal letter was done. I said, “Please read it to me, I will write it down”. I cried loudly when I was typing his appeal in Cyrillic Mongolian Script. He was confused. The phone was ringing. “Your appeal has been accepted. My superiors have told me that you should meet with the authorities concerned because they requested you to do so. The vehicle is waiting for you outside”, I told him. It was about 5:00PM. I kept crying after he left. After a while I calmed down myself and telephoned UNOHCHR to inform them officially of what had happened. I stayed in my office after my coworker left. It was after 6:00PM. Around 6:45PM, the asylum applicant telephoned me directly, “I was given the decision that I be deported from Mongolia after being given a fine due to overstaying my legal period. I have to go”. I told him, “Try your best to stay here [Mongolia] until you get the decision on your appeal,” I could not control my tears again. I was almost about to scream but controlled myself and said to him, “Yes, I understood”, when he told me, “No matter I agree or not, they are taking me back [to China]”. Based on the notification from me, UNOHCHR sent several communications to the government of his [Batzangaa] home country [China] between 2009 and 2010 regarding the asylum applicant [Batzangaa]. None of this helped. Since more than two weeks ago, websites in Mongolia and abroad have been clamoring about the event in which he [Batzangaa] was unjustly tried in his home country [China]. All sorts of people started calling me at work and on my cell phone. Being told that the higher ups should make a response to the event, I kept quiet. But, now I will not keep quiet. Not because I care about myself only, but because I want people to know the truth. In recent days I started connecting the assaults that Enhriimaa and Hulan suffered at midnight between October 6 and 7, 2009, to this event. Because my name always appears on the Internet in connection with LGBT issues, some people concerned might even have tried to punish fellow LGBT associates instead of Anaraa.

Although it is true that the United Nations set up the standards of justice and human rights, the decisions are always made by national governments, especially when it comes to the decision of whether a foreigner is allowed to stay in the country. The United Nations is not a country that has its own territory. Countries always bring their hundreds of thousands of citizens back from their neighbors. It is no longer a secret that stronger countries always use convenient excuses like “terrorists”, “dissidents”, and “criminals threatening the national interest” etc. to bring back their citizens through such distortion to the governments of small countries that have weaker economic and political status. Our southern neighbor (China) managed to have another large refugee organization agree that no international refugee status should be considered for their citizens in accordance with the country’s (China) policy. In December 2009, the group repatriation of the Uyghurs who fled China to other countries after the unrest in July 2009 in Xinjiang drew close attention from the international news media. But Batzangaa’s case didn’t. Some sporadic reports have been heard here and there. However, in late October 2009, and now, many false accusations about the case have been circulated to threaten me and my wife’s lives as a consequence of the failure to explain what had happened at that time.

I will possibly be removed from my position because I posted this on the Internet. But I don’t care because my heart and soul are clean. Should I work for the United Nations who even now does not recognize my marital status, refused to provide medical insurance for my partner, and forced me to “change my marital status to single because the Government of Mongolia refuses to accept my marriage”? Why should I still need to work for the United Nations who forced me to stop working on LGBT issues while failing to penalize my supervisor who continually discriminated against me for the entire year of 2009? Should I really need to continue to work like this after being thrown into this situation as a result of my effort to be who I am, my effort to live my own life, my effort on behalf of those who like myself uphold those same principles and standards the United Nations set up? This is the United Nations that I hoped to work for since the age 19. What can I do while these inter-governmental organizations who set up the standards of justice and equality act in this way? I am an ordinary individual who fights for human rights. My life has by no means passed meaninglessly. If the consequences of my actions have caught up to me and if the number of days in this life have achieved their end, then let it be. But please leave my partner and my fellow associates alone.



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