More than 10,000 people mourning for a four-year-old victim of domestic violence gathered at Chinggis Square on Saturday to unite their voices for acting against child abuse.
The city residents from various backgrounds, including mothers, members of non-government organizations and government members, all headed to the square to take part in “White Gathering” for a public memorial at 6:00 p.m. They lit candles, in what organizers said was “to brighten the way for the girl travelling to heaven.”
About ten NGOs, Lantuun Dokhio Bulgem NGO, Khuuhed Khamgaalliin Undesnii Suljee NGO, Khuchirhiilelgui Mongol Campaign, and Eej Bukhnii Duu Khooloi Facebook Group worked together to organize the event. Members of these groups made up more than 3,000 of the vigil’s attendees, which was said to number 10,000.
The girl was reportedly beaten to death by her father and stepmother, although final autopsy results haven’t been released yet. Preliminary reports suggest the victim died of external factors.
Social media has been reporting that her neighbors allegedly heard the girl screaming but didn’t contact police for hours. At the square, the gatherers held posters saying, “Let’s be useful neighbors,” in response to the reports, calling on people act against domestic violence. The police advised the public to report cases of suspected domestic violence as early as possible, reminding people that it vigilance can save lives.
News of the event spread to provinces and also overseas, where local residents and Mongolians living abroad joined the movement and lit candles where they lived for the little girl.
Students living in Taiwan and those in Orkhon, Selenge, Dornogovi, Uvurkhangai and Darkhan-Uul Provinces, as well as outlying districts of Ulaanbaatar all offered their condolences and lit candles at the same time the “White Gathering” took place at Chinggis Square.
Residents who couldn’t leave their homes on Saturday lit candles in their homes and prayed for the girl, according to photos shared on social media.
Visitors to Chinggis Square not only lit candles, but signed a petition written by the vigil’s organizers asking for the government to improve efforts against child abuse and domestic violence.
The organizers aimed to draw the government’s attention to what they believe is an urgent need to better the safety of children, by organizing the gathering and collecting a total of 5,177 signatures for the petition. The petition will be submitted to the government and related organizations shortly.
Another group gathered in front of the Buddha statue next to Zaisan Hill to wish for the girl’s peace and pray for no more victims of domestic violence.
Female Members of Parliament who attended the gathering promised to try their best to submit draft bills against child abuse and domestic violence to parliamentary sessions. They announced that they are working on forming a group to specifically lead the project.
Tusgal Club of photography advised the organizers on how to form the word “Khuukhed” (Child) by a human chain which was captured in photos from a tall building nearby.
The print and photography company Zdesign printed and donated large posters set up at the square and MVM Auto Club organized a vehicle parade through the central roads of the city, in solidarity with Saturday’s evening vigil.
The event organizers were permitted to hold the gathering for an hour according to a permit issued by the Ulaanbaatar City Mayor’s Office. The gathering ended at 7:30 p.m., however, thousands of candles remained lit long after the officially sanctioned end of the event.
The organizers cleaned the square of melted candles afterwards, saying that they wanted to show how any type of gathering must be held in an organized manner.
The father of the victim is reported to have worked for the National Forensic Institute, and the public has been suspicious of whether or not the forensic research results of the girl’s autopsy will be made truthfully. However, the Media and Public Communications Officer at the General Police Department, Yo.Lkhagvasuren, confirmed, “Researchers working on the autopsy signed a contract promising that research will be conducted truthfully without the interests of any third party. They pledged to answer to legal charges if they are found to have submitted false results, as assured by the document which the police made the researchers sign in response to the public’s suspicions.”
The investigation of the girl’s death is currently ongoing and updated information will be reported by the UB Post.