Reporters Without Borders deplores a new wave of arrests and harassment in Inner Mongolia in the run-up to the release of journalist and human rights activist Hada, due to take place on 10 December when he will have completed a 15-year jail sentence.
“The authorities are resorting to crude ploys in an attempt to prevent the release of Hada, a defender of Mongol ethnic minority rights, from receiving any publicity,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We call for the immediate release of his wife Xinna and an end to the harassment of his son Uiles and other family members.”
According to Uiles, the authorities have so far refused to say when or where his father will be released. After being detained briefly in the regional capital, Hohhot, for “disseminating information via the Internet,” Uiles sent a message to news media and human rights organizations from an Internet café on 4 December drawing attention to his family’s plight.
After releasing Uiles, the deputy chief of the Hohhot Public Security Bureau asked him to sign a pledge not to disseminate any information about himself or his family by Internet or telephone, to stay away from his parents and to carry out no “separatist activity.” The official also reportedly promised him a house and a job in exchange for his silence.
Uiles told the New York-based Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Centre (SMHRIC) that he would not sacrifice his “freedom and dignity” by signing such a pledge and that he was “proud of being the son of these great parents, who have never given up their pursuit of freedom, human rights and human dignity.” He was rearrested on 5 December and is currently being held in Hohhot Detention Centre No. 1.
According to the SMHRIC, Uiles’ mother, Xinna, was arrested during a raid on the family’s bookstore in Hohhot on 4 December and is being held in the same prison as her son. The police seized hundreds of books, CDs and other items from the bookstore and, according witnesses, sealed its doors and windows. A day-long search was also carried out at the bookstore’s depot by a dozen policemen. Although they had no warrant, they reportedly seized Uiles’ computer, Xinna’s diary, business accounts and personal books owned by the family.
Uiles said he was very worried about his mother, who is 55 and has a serious heart problem. His uncle, a retired teacher, was also harassed for giving interviews to foreign news media. He is still being denied the right to visit Hada.
Tension in Inner Mongolia about activist’s imminent release, supporters harassed
Reporters Without Borders urges the Chinese authorities not to delay the release of Mongol journalist and human rights activist Hada, who will complete a 15-year jail sentence in Inner Mongolia on 10 December. Their behaviour towards his supporters indicates a degree of nervousness about the prospect of his imminent release.
“We ask the authorities to allow Hada to be reunited with his family after his release,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We also urge them to stop all forms of surveillance of those who defend Mongol ethnic minority rights peacefully online.”
Govruud Huuchinhuu, a writer who defends the rights of China’s Mongol minority, has been placed under house arrest for trying online to organize Hada’s supporter to greet him. Arrested at her home in Tongliao, in the southeast of Inner Mongolia, by two plain-clothes policemen on 11 November, she was taken to the Horchin district Bureau of Public Security and then sent home. Since then, her movements have been restricted and she cannot be reached.
Hada was arrested on 10 December 1995 for creating an organization that defended the rights of ethnic Mongols and for publishing a newspaper called The Voice of the Southern Mongolia. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 1996 on charges of “separatism” and “spying.”
He has served his sentence in Chifeng prison (Inner Mongolia), where he has constantly been bullied and physically mistreated by fellow inmates and guards, who have prevented him from writing and reading books and newspapers. Diagnosed by doctors as suffering from peripheral neuropathy and phlebitis, he has been given nothing to relieve the associated pain. His wife and son have also been subjected to reprisals for campaigning for his release.
More information about Hada: http://www.smhric.org/campaigns.htm
Huuchinhuu has been defending freedom of expression, especially on the Internet, for more than 10 years. She used to help manage and moderate online discussion forums for Mongol students and intellectuals, such as www.nutuge.com, www.ehoron.com et wwww.mongolger.net. They were closed by the Chinese authorities in recent years for “posting secessionist content” and “discussing ethnic issues.”
When police searched Huuchinhuu’s home after the Mongol Yurt Forum (www.mongolger.net) was banned, they deleted all the files on her computer’s hard disk. The site’s creator, Sodmongol, was arrested at Beijing international airport on 17 April as he was about to leave to attend a session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. He was freed three months later but can no longer be reached.
Inner Mongolia continues to suffer from the Chinese government’s cyber-censorship. The latest website to be censored is Ulaaq (www.ulaaq.com), a site created and managed by the writer Naranbilig. The site has been “sinicized” and Naranbilig has been placed under house arrest.
No truly independent website or discussion forum currently exists in Inner Mongolia.