A statue of the Beatles in the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar could be at risk amid an alleged land grab, protesters say, as rapid development turns a city once famed for wide open spaces into a cluttered metropolis. Grace Lee reports.
"Let it be" - that's what protesters are saying about this Beatles statue in Mongolia, which could be at risk of being torn down in an alleged land grab. "Was this big apple doing any harm? Everyone likes to come here and enjoy their free time. But they just destroyed all this," said one person. The monument was built to commemorate the country's transition to democracy in 1990. Once a space where Mongolians gathered to talk about banned Western pop music, it's become a quirky tourist attraction in recent years. But now, the area known as Beatles Square, is at the heart of a property development plan as the city continues its rapid transformation into a bustling metropolis. Protests began last week after announcements that construction would begin. Authorities have defended the development, calling it a "car-free street" project to build an underground shopping complex and that the monument wouldn't be removed. But protesters have their doubts as investors have failed to deliver on promises to protect public spaces in the past. "We are going to try to protect this area. It's not only our personal space, but it's also a historical and cultural of the city," said a protester. Ulaanbaatar's population has doubled over the past two decades, plaguing the city with increased pollution and congestion. The strain on the city's infrastructure has forced it to rethink its planning of urban spaces, drawing criticism and corruption accusations for the sale of public land to wealthy buyers. But this is one monument residents say they won't let go of, an icon that inspired generations and a symbol of the country's history.