Posted on July 22, 2009

The Neo-Nazis of Mongolia: Swastikas Against China

Mitch Moxley, Time, July 27, 2009

In the Mongolian capital Ulan Bator, “Shoot the Chinese” is spray-painted on a brick wall near a movie theater. A pair of swastikas and the words “Killer Boys . . . ! Danger!” can be read on a fence in an outlying neighborhood of yurt dwellings. Graffiti like this, which can be found all over the city, is the work of Mongolia’s neo-Nazis, an admittedly implausible but often intimidating, and occasionally violent, movement.

Ulan Bator is home to three ultra-nationalist groups claiming a combined membership of several thousand–a not insignificant number in a country of just 3 million people. They have adopted Nazi paraphernalia and dogma, and are vehemently anti-Chinese. One group, Blue Mongolia, has admitted to shaving the heads of local women found sleeping with Chinese men. Its leader was convicted last year of murdering his daughter’s Mongolian boyfriend, who had merely studied in China. {snip}

The neo-Nazis may be on society’s fringe, but they represent the extreme of a very real current of nationalism. {snip}

Fifty-year-old Zagas Erdenebileg is the leader of Dayar Mongol (All Mongolia), the most prominent of the neo-Nazi groups. “If our blood mixes with foreigners’, we’ll be destroyed immediately,” says Erdenebileg, who has run unsuccessfully for parliament four times. {snip}

If Erdenebileg is the elder statesman of Mongolia’s neo-Nazis, Shari Mungun-Erdene, the 23-year-old leader of the roughly 200-strong Mongolian National Union (MNU), is the new kid on the block and sports a swastika tattoo on his chest. The MNU takes vigilante action against law-breaking outsiders, Mungun-Erdene says, mainly Chinese. When I ask what kind of action, he replies, “Whatever it takes so that they don’t live here. {snip}

Dagva Enkhtsetseg, program manager for the Open Society Forum, an Ulan Bator–based organization that promotes public participation in civic life, points out that the neo-Nazis don’t enjoy broad support. A graduate in Mongolian nationalism, she argues that hard-line nationalism’s allure is subsiding as more young Mongolians are exposed to globalization or study abroad. {snip}