Friday, June 6, 2008

The Blind Organize a Demonstration on Knees

The Mongolian Society for Developmentally Challenged (literal translation, somewhat weird though) organized a demonstration at UB city square against the new government legislation on public transport fares. The pensioners and the handicapped (I don't know if disabled is a better word. I once saw a bus ad in Singapore which referred to the disabled as "these-abled people", which made me want to weep at the stupidity and futility of the human race and the times in which we live in, especially when I thought of the graphic artist who had to sit there and design the poster all the while wanting to tear his eyes out. Coz if I ever get disabled due to an accident probably of my own making, I would prefer the un-PC "gimp" to "this-abled" person. I mean, this is so wrong that it can't even be called patronizing.) must now pay the full fare for public transport.

The demonstrators, most of them visually impaired, crawled on their knees to the city hall which is located to the left of the UB city square, and demanded that the mayor acknowledge their official protest. Mayor's representative met with the protesters and received their letter. The protesters then made their way, on their knees, to the Parliament House, located about 100 meters from the City Hall. Upon being stopped by the guards, they proceeded to lie on the pavement and the roads(!). A dangerous and daring feat, considering the traffic situation in Mongolia nowadays. Eventually a government official was sent down to take their official letters of protest. The protesters continued their prone protest on the roads, blocking traffic for some time after this.

I have never seen a demonstration of this sort in Mongolia, except for the 1990 hunger strike by the Democrats. And also there was the Mongolian People's Movement (or something to that effect, very Monty Pythonesque), who, as an act of protest, built a Mongolian ger / yurt, on one of the city squares and declared a hunger strike. Unceremoniously ignored by the government, they then proceeded to live on the city square for the next 2 years (rent-free!). The way they had parked their ger on a city square, they would have been mistaken for a nomadic family with little regard for the modern world except for their little banner, which simply read "Mongolian People's Movement" or something to that effect. As far as I can remember, their demand, during the 2-3 day hunger strike they declared until they got too hungry, was that the government resign. There was little else by way of offering an alternative, or a solution. I suppose this is why they were ignored by the government as well as the general public. Nevertheless, the government ignored them for 2 long years, allowing them a comfortable living space in a prime real estate area.

I suppose that is something I might do. Having built up so much hype, you can't just wrap up and leave. You have to stick around for a couple of years, until people forget why you are there in the first place. Then you can quietly dismantle your little tent and disappear into the dark cold night before anyone reminds people of your shame and utterly ridiculous and agendaless political movement.