In China’s northern region of Inner Mongolia, Chinese authorities continue to hold ethnic Mongolian dissident Hada beyond his scheduled release and have detained his wife and son, relatives and rights groups said.
“According to their own laws, the Communist Party sentenced him to 15 years, and when he had served the 15 years then he should have gone home,” Xi Haiming (also known as Temcheltu in Mongolian), chairman of the Germany-based Inner Mongolian League for the Defense of Human Rights, told RFA.
“But actually, not only did they not let him go home, but in order to put pressure on him, they seized his wife and son,” he said.
Hada, 55, was scheduled for release last December after serving 15 years for “separatism” because he led a nonviolent campaign for Inner Mongolian independence from Chinese rule.
But instead he has been held in a “secret location” on the outskirts of Hohhot, the capital of China’s Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region, the US-based Southern Mongolian Human Rights Center (SMHRIC) said in a statement Saturday.
Ahead of Hada’s scheduled release last December, authorities shut down the family’s Mongolian Studies Bookstore and detained his wife, Xinna, and son, Uiles.
Hada’s sister-in-law, Naraa, told the told SMHRIC that local public security officials were not pleased that Hada would not cooperate with them.
“They said Hada is not cooperating with them at all. They shook their heads and said that Hada is an almost hopelessly stubborn man,” she said.
She said that his 15 years of detention did not bend his will, “And obviously one more year of softer measures are not working either,” Naraa told SMHRIC.
“The PSB people frankly told me that they even tried to threaten him by claiming to imprison his wife and son if he was to continue to be uncooperative.”
Naraa said the local police have been her only source of information about Hada’s family because authorities have limited her contact with the family since she spoke out about Hada’s plight.
“[They] told me that they do not allow any member of my family to visit him, because both I and my mother received phone calls from overseas and gave interviews on several occasions. In fact, our home phone was disconnected by the authorities for a while,” she said.
“The PSB people just said that the higher ups are not happy about us, because, they say, we gave interviews to foreign news media and human rights organizations,” she said.
Son’s house arrest
Hada’s son Uiles is being held under house arrest, after he was taken into custody along with his mother last December ahead of Hada's scheduled release.
Xinna was charged with “illegally operating a business” and Uiles was accused of “being involved in drug dealing.”
Xinna, 55, is being held at the No. 1 Detention Center in Hohhot, but no judicial procedures are taking place, SMHRIC said.
She is in poor health and "looked thin and pale" when a relative visited her in November, Naraa told SMHRIC.
Uiles was released on bail from No. 3 Detention Center pending trial for one year, but remains under house arrest at an apartment in suburban Hohhot, the capital of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.
There are two security video cameras monitoring his apartment, his movement is restricted, and he has become depressed and frustrated due to his lack of employment prospects or education opportunities, Naraa told SMHRIC.
"He often confronts the PSB people who come to visit and monitor him," she said.
She told SMHRIC that Uiles said while he was in detention he witnessed the poor treatment of Mongolian students and intellectuals who had participated in the protests that swept the region over the summer.
In May, the killing of a herdsman in a standoff with mining company employees triggered large-scale protests by herders and students across Inner Mongolia, putting a spotlight on ethnic tensions in the region.
In the wake of the protests, China poured large numbers of troops into the region and enforced a security lock-in at schools, universities, and government institutions.
Official documents described the protests by thousands of ethnic Mongols in the region's major cities as the work of "external hostile forces," although it made no mention of where those forces originated.
Mongols are a recognized ethnic minority in China and number around 6 million according to government statistics.
Reported by Yang Jiadai for RFA’s Mandarin Service. Written in English by Rachel Vandenbrink.