I am fleeing from my home country.
My name is Tserendolgor. People called me Tseren. I am a Mongolian citizen. I have been an entrepreneur since I was 23, but recently all my business has been forced to close.
Mongolia, a remote corner of communist regime, has been pursuing the democratic path since 1990, when the communist system collapsed. Just in few days, on June 26, presidential election will be held in Mongolia. I have temporarily fled my country because of that. My husband and my two children still remain in Mongolia because schools are still on. My children have the right to education.
My first visit to Switzerland was in September 2016, at the request of the Mongolian Environmental Lawyers’ Association. We approached the Swiss authorities with a request to help investigate the savings owned by Mr. S.Bayartsogt, former Mongolian Minister of Finance. Similar requests had been repeatedly submitted to all level state inspection agencies in Mongolia since 2013 but no investigation had ever taken place.
Today Mongolia is in a tremendously difficult situation. Thirty-eight times the size of Switzerland, Mongolia has abundant natural resources and the population of three million, mostly consisting of children and youth. Why are Mongolian people living in poverty and most desire to flee their country no matter where?
There are about two thousand Mongolians currently living in Geneva. Because Mongolia is officially a democracy, political asylum seekers from Mongolia are not welcomed here. Sometimes the Mongolians are called economic refugees.
Today, more than 140 thousand people, or nearly 5 percent of the Mongolia’s population are residing abroad for economic reasons, both legally and illegally. Because they are citizens of a democratic Mongolia, other states refuse to accept them as refugees or immigrants. Wherever they go, Mongolian authorities promote Mongolia as a prospering economy, free and democratic. Foreign politicians and decision-makers do not always see the truth behind that façade, do not recognize that all these lies are told by Mongolian officials to build their reputation, nothing more.
The Mongolian political arena is drenched in populism. For the last 8 years the country has been ruled by the president T. Elbegdorj. Although he is formerly is believed to be one of the leaders of the democratic revolution, he has become the symbol of the oligopolistic totalitarian regime he is a part of. Similar to other post-communist states, corruption in Mongolia has grown at an insane speed. The distribution of natural resources was neither equal nor just. To tell you just one example, the deputy Minister of Finance, has recently reported the results of auditing the Central Bank of Mongolia and highlighted that 98 percent of all savings belong to the 4 percent of customers.
The external and internal debt of Mongolia currently equal the annual GDP (22 billion US dollars). Although the authorities say that favorable environment has been established to attract foreign investment, nevertheless, the current criticism is that the foreign investment just exchanges the hands of very few people before being placed in their offshore accounts. Besides, the profit made by mining plants built as a result of external investment is located not in Mongolia but abroad. Informal estimates show that 17.5 billion US dollars have leaked to offshore accounts as reported by civil society organizations.
This spring civil society put out a lengthy struggle to adopt a new law that will hold accountable the politicians with offshore accounts and bring back their savings in offshore accounts. However, instead the parliament adopted the Law on Protection politicians with offshore accounts.
In Mongolia, democracy turned into a system that produces and encourages corruption. Over 40 percent of the population is surviving on less than 1 USD a day. The sharply continental climate, extremely cold winters with temperatures below 30 degrees Celsius and hot and dry summers at plus 30 degrees Celsius seriously impact the livelihood of people.
Over 40 per cent of the residents of the capital Ulaanbaatar, and of other major towns do not have the running water and internal restrooms. As a result, infectious diseases are on the rise. Mining industry’s chaotic development, and unregulated illegal gold mining resulted in the desertification of 70 % of Mongolia’s territory, and the shortage of community pasturelands affect livestock, the main survival plan for Miye. Very often, impoverished herders migrate to the city contribution to pollution and overpopulation.
Economic inequality and difficult circumstances force many Mongolians leave the country.
Briefly speaking today’s situation is a direct result of irresponsible actions of Mongolian politicians. The falling reputation of democracy and impoverished communities force the Mongolian people vote for the old communist party. Out of 76 seats in the Mongolian parliament, in the 2016, two former communist parties –MPP and MPRP–earned 66 seats jointly resulting in the absolute power without control.
The chairman of the post-communist Mongolian People’s Party is running in the presidential election against democratic candidates. The competition is clearly unequal. The ruling party has put price tags on every government position accumulating 60 billion Mongolian Tugrugs or approximately 25.5 million USD. Such funding and budget is not available for other parties. The young man by the name Dorjzodov, who leaked the proof, is currently hiding on a foreigner’s property and is under the seige by the Mongolian law enforcement and intelligence services.
This is the reason why I am here. I came to promote things I see in Switzerland to Mongols via social media. In January 2017, I came to Switzerland in order to meet the President of Mongolia who was taking a part in the World Economic Forum in Davos. But I was not let to see him. Despite facing economic hardships, Mongolian politicians continue attending every important international conference and wasting the state budget.
Mongolia is one of very few countries that organize huge tea-parties and art performances. You might know better. This time, I fled my country in the face of the upcoming Presidential election.
Mongolia lacks courageous journalists who are not afraid to launch independent investigations of corruption cases. The reason is because all major broadcasting channels, prominent newspapers and websites are owned by politicians.
I have fled my country because I am facing many dangers and risks. The state launched activities to interrogate, force, and even arrest anyone who declares the truth about the corrupt Mongolian political and business network. Because I express my opinions independently, the authorities have been trying to accuse me in a crime for a while now. These pre-election days are full of insults and accusations instead. People with high potential impact on public have been subjected to harsh treatment.