February 4, 2014
2007 Goldman Prize winner Tsetsegee Munkhbayar has been sentenced to 21 years in prison following his involvement in a September 2013 demonstration in front of a Mongolian parliament building, during which a rifle was accidentally discharged.
Although no one was hurt, Munkhbayar and several of his colleges were charged with “acts of terrorism,” because they were bearing arms at the time of the protest, a charge that many in the international environmental community see as unnecessarily harsh.
Earthworks, an NGO dedicated to protecting communities and the environment from the impacts of irresponsible mineral and energy development, stated: “It is more likely the sentence is retribution for Mr. Munkhbayar’s long history of challenging environmentally destructive interests than because of any danger posed or law broken by Mr. Munkhbayar and his fellow activists.”
Munkhbayar and members from his organization United Movement of Mongolian Rivers and Lakes (UMMRL), together with 11 other NGOS, were protesting government attempts to weaken the “Law to prohibit mineral exploration and mining at headwaters of rivers, protected zones of water reservoirs and forested areas,” informally known as “the law with the long name” or LLN.
To learn more about Munkhbayar’s sentencing and the law he was fighting to protect, check out this action alert set up by Earthworks.