|September 22, 2011|
[video available below]
Tsakhia Elbegdorj, President of Mongolia, awarded New York Democracy Forum Presidential Medal by Carl Gershman, President of National Endowment for Democracy. (www.president.mn photo)
In honor of Tsakhia Elbegdorj, President of Mongolia, and Roza Otunbayeva, President of Kyrgyztan, the Foreign Policy Association (APF) and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) jointly hosted a dinner in New York as part of the 2011 World Leadership Forum on September 22, 2011.
Three members of the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center (SMHRIC) were invited to the dinner. Attendees also included executives of mining giants Peabody and Rio Tinto.
National anthems of Mongolia and the United States were performed by the West Point Band’s Regimental Brass Quintet followed by a welcoming speech by Robert C. Miller, Chairman of the Hurford Foundation.
Following Roza Otunbayeva’s speech, President Elbegdorj gave a passionate and inspirational address as a keynote speaker on democracy, human rights, bad government, and corruption, as well as the natural wealth of Mongolia. Reading a part of the statement he made at the United Nations General Assembly, he praised the Arab Spring, and condemned tyrannies for suppressing their citizens’ freedom and human rights, particularly pointing his finger at the former Libyan leader Gaddafi referring to him “like a rat hiding from hole to hole”.
After his speech, Carl Gershman, President of NED, made a remark on Mongolia’s peaceful democratic transition and her efforts to promote democracy and human rights. Recognizing his leadership and contribution to the promotion of democracy and the rule of law in the remote land-locked country, Carl Gershman presented the New York Democracy Forum Presidential Medal to President Elbegdorj.
Following his keynote address, President Elbegdorj was asked to answer questions from the distinguished guests. Only five questions were selected and presented to Elbegdorj by Carl Gershman. One of them was from the representatives of SMHRIC.
Standing next to President Elbegdorj, Carl Gershman said, “One last question is, we have a group of people from Southern Mongolia which is in China. They raised a question of ‘what the policy is of the Government of Mongolia toward Mongolian asylum seekers from China who come to Mongolia?’ They mentioned the case of Mr. Batzangaa who was arrested and sent back to China [from Mongolia].”
President Elbegdorj started out with a strong endorsement of the need to protect human rights. In quoting President Elbegdorj, the dots represent pauses where he trailed off: “Tough question. You know, in the world there is10 million Mongolians, and roughly 3 millions in Mongolia and 5 millions in China, in Inner Mongolia. Twice as much Mongolians actually live in China. And of course, we would like to maintain a great relationship with China. But we are never shy to speak in Mongolia about human rights violation. You know, we never shy those people who strive to be free. We talk it. Our press talk it. Our people talk it. My government talk it. But, of course maintaining neighborly respectful relationship with China is very important. I think about China, whole word are speaking. Not only Mongolia, you guys are from ocean away from China, even you are here speaking about China. And we are ... also talking about China. But... we are trying to keep a very good relationship with China. But...but...but, we are never trade with our rights of course. We stand on our rights.” Regrettably, President Elbegdorj avoided a clear statement on his government’s position toward Southern Mongolian political refugees who enter Mongolia.
“I know Mongolia is an inspiration to the Mongolians in China, as well as to people around the world,” Carl Gershman added, stressing the importance of roles Mongolia should play in promoting human rights and democracy,
Southern Mongolian refugees entering Mongolia have been frequent targets of harassment, detention, arrest and even deportation by Mongolian authorities in collaboration with Chinese authorities.