Protesters in Mongolia have now been demonstrating for more than 3 days. They are outraged at what they view as the theft of the country’s coal, which is being sold, almost entirely, to China. Some are also alleging that officials involved in the sale have been skimming money off the top to line their own pockets.
Protesters have been braving the subzero temperatures to make their feelings felt in front of both Ikh Tenger, the official residence of the president and prime minister and the Government Palace, where the State Great Khural (Mongolia’s parliament) meets. They have been singing, dancing, and stamping their feet to remain warm and voice their frustrations.
There are also allegations by security forces that demonstrators have broken down barricades and smashed windows, and that some have even had physical clashes with the police. Their frustration is understandable, Mongolia has long dealt with issues of corruption within its government, in addition, the pandemic has hit the country like a truck, sending inflation soaring up over 15 percent.
There is currently an ongoing investigation by the government into the reported illicit sale of 385,000 tons of coal. The value of which sits at nearly $2 billion. An investigation into more than 30 officials in the Mongolian government for corruption was launched last month. One of the individuals under the preview of the investigation is the chief executive of Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi, a state-owned coal mining company.
China is Mongolia’s biggest trading partner. 86 percent of Mongolia’s exports land in China, and coal makes up more than half of those goods. With the economic downturn in China and the war in Ukraine creating financial issues around the world, it is no wonder that people are hurting and frustrated in a country that has only slightly less than one third of its populace living in poverty.
As people around the globe speak out against government corruption and authoritarian practices (as we are seeing in places like Iran, Myanmar, China, and the list goes on), people must help build solidarity and support networks to ensure we can all live free.