Mongolian neo-Nazis rebrand themselves as environmentalists
Tsagaan Khass, or White Swastika, whose leader has expressed reverence for Hitler, now says its main goal is to save nature
A Mongolian neo-Nazi group has rebranded itself as an environmentalist organisation fighting pollution by foreign-owned mines, seeking legitimacy as it sends swastika-wearing members to check mining permits.
Tsagaan Khass, or White Swastika, has only 100 or so members but it is one of several groups – others have names including Dayar Mongol (Whole Mongolia), Gal Undesten (Fire Nation) and Khukh Mongol (Blue Mongolia) – that are linking nationalism and resources as foreign firms seek to exploit the mineral wealth of the vast country, landlocked between Russia and China.
Based in an office behind a lingerie store in the Mongolian capital, the shaven-headed, jackbooted Tsagaan Khass stormtroopers launch raids on mining projects, demanding paperwork or soil samples to be studied for contaminants.
Members of the Mongolian neo-Nazi group Tsagaan Khass stand near a quarry where they questioned a worker.
"Before, we used to work in a harsh way, like breaking down doors," the group’s leader, Ariunbold Altankhuum, 40, told Reuters. "But now, we have changed and we use other approaches, like demonstrations."On a patrol to a quarry two hours’ drive from the capital, members wore black, SS-style Nazi uniforms complete with lightning flashes and replica Iron Crosses.
Mongolian neo-Nazi group the Tsagaan Khas (‘White Swastika’) salute on the streets of the capital Ulan Bator - See more at: http://www.badeagle.com/#sthash.XaxjYJQF.dpuf
They questioned a mine worker about paperwork, opting to return in a week’s time, when the owner had returned.
"Today our main goal is to save nature. We are doing things to protect the environment," Altankhuum said. "The development of mining is growing and has become an issue."
The group, founded in the 1990s, says it wants to halt pollution in the former Soviet satellite as foreign companies dig for gold, copper, coal and iron ore using cheap labour from China and nearby south-east Asia. But a lot of the pollution is caused by local, illegal miners working individually.
"We used to talk about fighting with foreigners, but some time ago we realised that is not efficient, so our purpose changed from fighting foreigners in the streets to fighting the mining companies," Altankhuum said.
Mongolians fear foreign workers are taking up scarce jobs in an economy where nearly 30% of the population lives below the poverty line, according to the Asia Development Bank.
"Mining is important because it’s 90% of our economy," said the political commentator Dambadarjaa Jargalsaikhan. "But the unequal channelling of this revenue, the inequality in this country, that’s the major issue."
Not helping the Tsagaan Khass environmental credentials among mainstream observers – apart from the uniforms – is Altankhuum’s reverence for Adolf Hitler.
"The reason we chose this way is because what is happening here in Mongolia is like 1939, and Hitler’s movement transformed his country into a powerful country," he said.
Read the full article at: guardian.co.uk