Riots Imperil Democracy in Mongolia

Government crackdown worries citizens in region's freest state
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 8, 2008 9:43 AM CDT
A woman stands with some items recovered from the burned-out headquarters of the ruling Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party, Thursday, July 3, 2008, in Ulan Bator, Mongolia.   (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
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(Newser) – Last week hundreds of drunken rioters in Mongolia's capital vented their frustration at parliamentary elections by smashing the headquarters of the ruling party, killing five people. The violence shocked many in this peaceful, democratic nation. But many Mongolians were equally shocked by the government's reaction: a four-day state of emergency, complete with a media blackout and soldiers in the streets.

Mongolia has had untroubled elections since 1992, writes the New York Times, and international observers said they were amazed at the fairness of last week's vote. But the riots, which also caused untold damage to a national museum and led to 700 arrests, has put a question mark over the nation's future. "I love democracy," said one worried parliamentarian. "I want to give this society to my children."