Rights group accuses Mongolia over 2008 rioting

By Ganbat Namjilsangarav, AP writer
ULAN BATOR, Mongolia – An international human rights group accused the Mongolian government Friday of ignoring reported abuses after deadly post-election rioting in the summer of 2008.

Five people were killed and more than 200 were hurt in the riots over alleged election fraud. It was the worst violence since the impoverished but resource-rich country tucked between China and Russia shook off communism nearly two decades ago.

Amnesty International in a statement released Friday said police shot at least nine people in the July 2008 rioting, killing four.

Hundreds of people were taken to crowded detention centers and went without food and water for up to three days, and some were beaten by police, the statement said.

"Investigations into allegations of human rights violations have been delayed, ignored or inadequately investigated," said Roseann Rife, deputy director for Amnesty International's Asia-Pacific program.

But Munkh-Orgil Tsend, a lawmaker who was the country's Minister of Justice and Internal Affairs at the time of the rioting, told The Associated Press there were no human rights abuses.

"Lack of food and facilities to hold rioters just shows that we all were not prepared for such a riot," he said. "It cannot be misinterpreted as human rights violation."

He said an investigation continues into the shootings and that no one has proved that police were responsible.

"Many people forget about responsibility when they talk about human rights," he said.

Munkh-Orgil is with the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party, the former ruling party that has long faced corruption complaints and was the target of the election fraud allegations.

Mongolia's opposition Democrats won presidential elections in May after pledging to crack down on graft and better distribute the country's mining wealth.

Investigations into the rioting continue. This month, a member of the National Human Rights Commission told a Parliament subcommittee hearing on human rights that 716 people were detained during the violence and 244 of them were convicted.

"Cases relating to the July 1 riot were treated harsher than usual," a member of the NHRC, identified as Dashdorj, told the committee, according to a Dec. 9 report by The Mongol Messenger newspaper.

There were no details on the charges they faced.

Source:AP (Associated Press) news agency


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