China Releases Veteran Mongolian Activist, Who Says He Was Tortured

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china-hada-reunion-dec-2010-600.jpg Hada (L) shares a meal with son Uiles (C) and wife Xinna (R) in a file photo.

A long-serving ethnic Mongolian dissident released by the Chinese authorities on Tuesday has detailed years of physical abuse and torture at the hands of prison staff during nearly 20 years of detention.

Hada, who is in his fifties, was released after four years' extrajudicial detention at the Jinye Ecological Park in the regional capital Hohhot, where he was being held after serving a 15-year jail term for "separatism" and "espionage."

"After so many years of torture, my body is riddled with disease, and all for what was a miscarriage of justice in the first place," Hada told RFA shortly after his release.

"I have been diagnosed with more than 10 different conditions, all of them the result of the torture, physical punishments and maltreatment I suffered in jail," he said.

Hada said police had privately acknowledged the extent of the mistreatment, and vowed to "pursue those criminally responsible."

But he said state security police had still imposed conditions on him after his release.

Hada said he was transferred to civilian living quarters on Nov. 17 and told he could continue to live there if he kept quiet about his treatment behind bars.

"They will only let me live here if I do as they tell me," Hada said. "I am not to give interviews to overseas media, I have to confess my guilt and promise not to sue them."

"So I can't complain about, nor publicize, my torture and physical abuse at their hands," said Hada, who refused to agree to the terms.

Four-year detention

Hada's post-jail detention was justified by the authorities as being the four-year deprivation of political rights that accompanied his original jail term.

Deprivation of political rights refers in Chinese law to the right to vote or be selected as an electoral candidate and the rights of freedom of speech, the press, assembly, association and demonstration, as well as the right to hold government office or a job in a state-run organization.

However, it is sometimes used as a pretext for further restrictions on released political prisoners.

Hada said part of the program of physical abuse and torture employed against him in jail took the form of an unidentified drug.

"They have continually used poisons to harm me, and I was in restraints twice: once in 2000 for 78 days, and the second time in 2005, for 21 days," he said.

"They did this to try to get me to confess my guilt, but I wouldn't play along."

Hada added: "The restraints were very restricted, so I was shut up in a tiny cell where I had to squat; the first time there were light-holes, but the second time there were none."

"When I was shut up in there I had really serious diarrhea but they didn't do anything about it," he said.

Other forms of torture

Hada said he was also deprived of food and drink while in prison.

"They wouldn't let me eat for a very long time, and there was a period where they wouldn't even let me drink, that was also quite long," he said.

"When they did let me drink, it was freezing cold water in winter; they wouldn't let us have hot water from the thermos flasks."

He said sleep deprivation and prolonged periods of forced labor had also been a common method of torture in prison.

"There was one time when they wouldn't let us rest for several days, day or night," Hada said. "They just made us work non-stop."

"I was perfectly healthy when I went in there," he said.

Hada's doctors have diagnosed him with systemic atherosclerosis, cervical spondylitis, as well as liver damage and loss of vision, he said.

He has also lost a large number of teeth.

Seeking redress

Hada maintains the charges against him were meaningless, and a form of political revenge for his activism on behalf of China's ethnic Mongolian population.

"Such things are not against the law," Hada said, referring to his Southern Mongolia Democratic Alliance group. "The problem is that racial oppression exists in Inner Mongolia, and that's what I wanted to oppose."

"I was fighting for the legal rights of ethnic minorities ... and that's why they persecuted me," he said.

Hada says he still has plans to seek redress through China's court system.

"I want to take them to court and win redress, and make them pay me compensation," he said. "I only went to prison on their trumped-up charges."

Now that Hada has been released, his future with his wife Xinna looks far from secure.

"The main issue is that my wife and I have no source of income, and I am in very poor health," he said. "The police told me privately that if I cooperate with them, they will sort all of that out for me."

"But they definitely won't sort it out if I don't do as they tell me," he said.

Wife and son

Hada's wife, Xinna, and the couple's grown son, Uiles, have also been subjected to routine police detentions and harassment during his incarceration.

In July, Xinna wrote letters to Chinese President Xi Jinping, the United Nations Human Rights Council and the U.S. Congressional Committee on Human Rights to highlight Hada's case.

Since then, authorities in Inner Mongolia turned hostile and began their current round of persecution, including harassment by cell phone, warnings not to publish posts on overseas websites, Internet service cutoffs, and threats to punish Xinna for publishing "illegal" posts online, she said.

Xinna said on Tuesday she was overjoyed that Hada had been reunited with his family.

"Hada lost his freedom for 19 years, and today ... he has finally been released," she said. "It is enough that he didn't die during those 19 years of hardship in prison."

"He'll have to take time to recover now."

She said she also saw her husband's imprisonment as "an ethnic problem."

"My son and I have continuously called for justice for Hada, and we have been treated as criminals for doing so," she said.

She said the ruling Chinese Communist Party's recent use of the "rule of law" as a national political focus remains to be tested.

"If China is really ruled by law, then the injustices against our family will be overturned," Xinna said.

Reported by Qiao Long for RFA's Mandarin Service, and by Hai Nan for the Cantonese Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.


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