Open Letter to Dianne Feinstein
Re: Statement on Former Mongolian President Enkhbayar
Dear Senator Feinstein,
I have been greatly disturbed by your recent comments regarding the arrest and on-going trial of N. Enkhbayar. As a life-long California resident, and a long time scholar of Mongolian politics, I believe that this letter is a long time coming. Instead of applauding the fact that Mongolia has been able to pass an anti-corruption bill after many years of debate, and that the newly established Anti-Corruption Agency has been able to actually make arrests of usually untouchable, high-level officials, you have instead become a mouthpiece for an excellently managed PR campaign on the part of Enkhbayar’s family.
Imagine my surprise when I mentioned to Mongolian colleagues that I had previously studied in California and they said that you are now well known in Mongolia! However, this status was not gained from your advocacy for Mongolian interests or even your record at home (which is exemplary, let us be sure), but rather from your personal connections to Enkhbayar’s family. I am further disturbed that you have declared the charges to be unequivocally politically motivated, calling into question the strength of Mongolian democracy and its commitment to the rule of law. It must be recognized that the issue is far from clear and simple. Since Mongolia’s Communist Party stepped down in 1990, the country has seen mostly peaceful transfers of power. Mongolia’s democratic system remains strong, has some way to go, but still deserves to be supported by the US and other democracies.
The arrest of ex-President Enkhbayar should be seen as a sign that Mongolia is finally taking action against corruption. I personally have been to Mongolia 4 times, totaling almost 15 months of research and language study in Ulaanbaatar. In all that time I have never once met a single Mongolian citizen that did not believe Enkhbayar to be among Mongolia’s most corrupt politicians. I have, furthermore, met very few people this summer who are unhappy with the arrest of this infamous political character. You seem to assert that Enkhbayar is a friend of the United States, and deserving of our support in his “time of need”. Instead, we need to recognize Enkhbayar for what he is: a person being charged with corruption. His trial has proceeded in a standard fashion, and despite claims to the contrary, he has been given every right due to him by the Mongolian Constitution. I would hope that the US is wise enough to notice the difference between political oppression and theatrics. Enkhbayar’s alleged hunger strike seems too reminiscent of Tymoshenko’s ordeal in Ukraine to be simple coincidence, and yet the cases could not be more different. Weeding out real political motivations from the fake claims of suspected criminals is difficult to be sure, and more research should go into any case before a US Senator declares a solid opinion on it.
The Mongolian authorities felt that they had sufficient evidence to support their case, take Enkhbayar into custody, and proceed with legal action. It is the right of the Mongolian people to proceed with this case as they feel necessary. I hope that in future international concerns, I will see more nuanced and sophisticated analysis on the part of my elected officials. Mongolian politics are hard to follow and many facts and figures tend to be missing from rumors and hearsay. I, for one, would avoid engaging US support for a man that many believe to guilty of deep corruption. Mongolia’s democratic court system is more than prepared to treat this case with the sensitivity it deserves. And US political support, whether it comes from one politician or many, may prove detrimental to the hearts and minds of the Mongolian people.
I am proud of my state’s political record and its status as one of America’s most forward thinking locations. I support many of your policies, Senator Feinstein. But today, I am saddened by your support for a cause not deserving to your record.
B.A. International Relations with Honors, USC 2011
M.A. Asia Pacific Policy Studies, UBC 2012
Analysis, Thoughts, Ideas
This blog will be an online publishing site for smaller analytical projects, news stories that I find relevant to small state foreign policy and indigenous autonomy, as well as a testing ground for new ideas and new projects that I may pursue.