Authorities in China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region have detained the wife of an imprisoned ethnic rights activist and raided their bookstore ahead of his release in an apparent bid to check any unrest.
Xinna, 55, was detained in a raid on the Mongolian Studies Bookstore in the provincial capital Hohhot on Saturday, six days before her husband Hada’s scheduled release.
Hada, 54, has served 15 years in prison on charges of “splittism” and “espionage.”
“Because Hada’s release date is approaching, the Chinese authorities are trying to silence any public opinion and so-called disturbance or possible unrest among Mongolians,” said Enhebatu Togochog, a spokesman for the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center (SMHRIC), a New York-based group.
Police from Hohhot’s Saihan district carried out the raid, confiscating hundreds of books, CDs, souvenirs, and the store’s account book and computer. It was the third raid on the store in a week.
Xinna had opened the bookstore with her husband before his arrest. She has spoken out about her husband’s situation and in support of Charter 08, a pro-democracy manifesto co-authored by imprisoned Chinese Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo.
Police informed the couple’s son, Uiles, that Xinna is being held at the Inner Mongolia No. 1. Detention Center. The grounds given for her detention were “illegal management” of the bookstore. Activist to be released this week
Xinna told AFP earlier this month that she had not been allowed to visit her husband since April.
Hada was imprisoned in 1995 after organizing peaceful protests in Hohhot for Mongolians’ ethnic rights. His sentence included a four-year ban on political activity after his release.
Hada was a founder of the Southern Mongolian Democratic Alliance, an organization which later set out its mission as “opposing colonization by the Han people and striving for self-determination, freedom and democracy in Southern [Inner] Mongolia.”
Some ethnic Mongolian rights activists refer to the province of Inner Mongolia as Southern Mongolia in reference to the Republic of Mongolia on its northern border.
Mongolians are a recognized ethnic minority in China and number around 6 million according to government statistics.Son “spread word”
While the police raided the bookstore, Hada and Xinna’s son Uiles left the bookstore’s warehouse where he had been working and went to an Internet café.
From there, he contacted the foreign media and overseas Mongolian rights groups.
According to the SMHRIC, police found Uiles at the Internet café and brought him to the local police station for questioning on Saturday.
The deputy director of the Hohhot police wanted Uiles to sign an agreement not to disseminate information about his family, to sever ties with his parents, and to not carry out “separatist” activities, according to SMHRIC.
The deputy director also promised to help find Uiles a nice job and various personal benefits in exchange for his cooperation.
Uiles was allowed to leave the police station later that evening, but the next day was brought to the local public security bureau, where authorities confiscated his cell phone while he was on the line with a foreign media outlet, according to SMHRIC’s spokesman.
“The authorities are just afraid of Xinna and Uiles because they were interviewed by foreign news media and they were talking about the situation to the news media and human rights organizations,” the spokesman said.Supporters targeted
Authorities also recently held under house arrest an ethnic Mongolian dissident writer who had been working to organize a rally to welcome Hada upon his release.
Govruud Huuchinhuu, a writer, activist and member of the Southern Mongolian Democratic Alliance (SMDA), was detained by Horchin district police in the city of Tongliao on Nov. 11.
"I wrote on my blog that I planned to go and visit him, to meet him on his release," she in an interview.
"They probably detained me under house arrest ahead of time, for fear that I would spread the news around," she said.Reported by RFA's Mandarin Service and Rachel Vandenbrink.