Less Visibility for Mongolian Ultra-Nationalists

I remember being shocked during my first trip to Mongolia in 2008 when walking along Peace Avenue, I saw a car belong to the unofficial political group/gang Blue Mongol (Хөх Монгол) sporting a prominent and rather taboo swastika. After asking around, I learned that this was one of several ultra-nationalists groups to be found in UB. At the same time, graffitti on various walls through the city featuring a swastika with the initials М.Ү.Н. (Монгол Үндесний Нам/Mongolian National Party) was readily visible to even the most inattentive observer. In 2009, such vandalism and the same Blue Mongol car could be spotted almost daily, and I remember hearing news reports of Chinese business men attacked, Korean tourists beat, and Mongolian women having their head shaved as punishment for dating a foreign (i.e. Chinese) man. Still other cars and vans with similar messages started popping up, and in the center of the city one could readily spot groups of young men with the tell-tell tattoos and hairstyles readily associated with ultra-nationalist gangs. In the same year, the BBC featured a couple of stories on another nationalist group, Даяар Монгол (roughly translated, Worldwide Mongolians). In 2010, not much had changed. However, as I was telling this story to friends, they asked what the situation was today and I realized an important development: not only have I seen far less М.Ү.Н. tagging, nor have I seen more than a couple of (admittedly hastely profiled) nationalists, I have not once seen that notorious Blue Mongol car that started my casual observations on this topic 5 years ago.

My feeling is that the visibility of such groups have declined in the past couple years, and perhaps some of their political activities have been checked by the authorities to ensure a secure environment for the upcoming elections. At the same, less visibility does not mean the end to xenophobic voilence. Random attacks against foreign business men and women, NGO workers, and so on are still to be heard, and anti-Chinese statements make up a significant proportion of graffitti. So, the question remains: What happened to the visibility of such groups? Have they spintered apart as such de facto gangs are prone to do? Do they lack any larger support structors to maintain themselves? Obviously these questions are not easy to answer, but the observations above might have a lot to say all on their own.

For an extended blog posting on ethnic nationalism in Mongolia as tied to fears of ethnic survival, visit:

 

This entry was posted in China, Elections, Ikh Khural 2012, Mongolia and ..., Nationalism, Party Politics, Politics and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Less Visibility for Mongolian Ultra-Nationalists

  1. mendee says:

    Brandon, an interesting piece of news – http://www.news.mn/content/112124.shtml – the city police officials and Chinese Embassy organized seminar (awareness training) for Chinese workers in Mongolia. Some of the nationalist groups are trying to renounce violence from their activities, for instance, Dayar Mongol. There are several cases under the police investigation (e.g., that several youth used the Dayar Mongol identity to threaten Chinese nationals).

  2. Gana says:

    You said “swastika”. I really wander if it was a nazi swastika (卐 rigth-facing) or a religious swastika of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism (卍 left-facing). I can’t imagine them using a nazi symbol.
    I’m pretty sure that they used it as a Buddist symbol.

    • miliate says:

      I used the word swastika, since it is the only word I can think of in English for хас тэмдэг. While I recognize that it is common knowledge that the Nazi version and religious versions are similar, it is clear from the ideologies of these parties that they promote ethnic purity. As such, I can see no alternative interpretation to their use of this symbol.

    • Amy says:

      I have definitely seen the right-facing swastika in use in Mongolia. Another way to differentiate it from the Hindu/Buddhist symbol is that it is on a 45 degree angle and has the nazi colour scheme (black on white on red).

  3. Lauren Bonilla says:

    The Kkukh Mongol group is still in active operation. In April I spoke with a prominent member, and he wanted to make a couple of points clear. First, there was an “extremist” faction of the group that committed some of the more atrocious assaults, like shaving the heads of Mongolian women dating Chinese men or attacking Chinese business owners. Those who committed these acts–mostly young guys– left or were driven out of the group and have formed a splinter faction. Second, Khukh Mongol stands for the protection of Mongolian land and people. While they are particularly concerned with Chinese political, cultural and economic influences on Mongolian territory, they also have issues with other activities that erode the integrity of their country, like uncontrolled mining. Third, one of the reasons why Khukh Mongol is not as publicly visible nowadays compared to the past is that they lack funding. Though the group claims to have a large number of supporters across the country (with a particularly strong base among those from or living in western Mongolia), they do not receive much funding from average citizens. They get most of their support from Mongolian elites like politicians and businessmen, and are currently forming networks with non-Mongolian supporters in other countries.

    While there are Mongolians committing violent acts against foreigners, I think that the foreign press grossly exaggerates their activities and make groups like Khukh Mongol seem more cohesive or radical in their nationalist ideology than they are in reality.

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