Mongolia: human rights defender Beejin Khastamur on trial on 8 July

July 5, 2016

According to Front Line Defenders a rather curious case seems to have been construed against a human rights defender in Mongolia. The trial of human rights defender Mr Beejin Khastamur will start on 8 July 2016 at the Songinokhairkhan District Court in Ulan Bator. He was arrested on 16 March 2016 and denied bail on 22 March. He was eventually released pending trial on 31 March. Beejin Khastamur is the founder of a non-governmental organisation Delhiin Mongol Nogoon Negdel (DMNN), which advocates for the protection of environment and the rights of the nomad people of Mongolia. The organisation has exposed many violations of Mongolia’s environmental laws by foreign and domestic mining companies, in which Mongolian politicians had a stake. It has also organised numerous workshops, public gatherings and demonstrations to educate the public on environmental issues. https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/profile/beejin-khastamur

According to the police Beejin Khastamur allegedly attacked the driver of another car using a knife. On 6 February 2016, Beejin Khastamur was indeed involved in a car accident, during which no one was killed or injured and the material damage caused was minimal. The human rights defender was driving in Ulan Bator when a Nissan car tried to pass him on the wrong side twice and eventually hit his vehicle. Its driver got out of the car and attacked Beejin Khastamur kicking him and hitting the human rights defender in his head. Subsequently, during the forensic examination it was revealed that Beejin Khastamur sustained bruises all over his body and had a brain concussion, while the second driver had only small scratches on one of his knees. When police arrived at the scene, they concluded that the accident had been the fault of the second driver and left. However, they subsequently returned and brought Beejin Khastamur to the police station for questioning. The actions of the police have given rise to the suspicion that the accident may have been used as a pretext to target Beejin Khastamur for his human rights work.

[On 21-23 December 2015, Beejin Khastamur organised a sit-down strike protesting the illegal permit given to a Canadian and Mongolian joint company enabling it to mine gold right on Onon River. Since then he has received multiple threats. On several occasions people came to his house, banging on his door at night, cutting his electricity, puncturing his car tires, threatening his wife and children. The human rights defender also received death threats on the phone.]

 

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