Authorities in northern China have refused to honor the scheduled release date of a prominent ethnic Mongolian political prisoner and have offered no explanation for his continued imprisonment, according to a regional human rights watchdog.
The New York-based Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center (SMHRIC) said an uncle of Hada was told by authorities that his nephew had already been transferred the to Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region (IMAR) capital of Hohot from Ulaanhad, where he had been held in prison.
Hada was scheduled to be released on Dec. 10 after serving 15 years in jail for “splitting the country and engaging in espionage” after forming the Southern Mongolian Democratic Alliance in 1995 with the goal of independence from China.
Hada’s wife Xinna and son Uiles are also still being held by authorities after being detained earlier in the week by public security officials in Hohot.
Xinna was detained on charges of “running an illegal business” in a Dec. 4 raid on the family’s bookstore, while her son was picked up by security officials the following day and accused of “involvement in drug dealing.”
Neither has been provided with a defense attorney.
Phone calls to the prison where Hada was held, as well as to the center where his wife and son are detained, went unanswered Friday.
SMHRIC said that according to Hada’s uncle Haschuluu, authorities in the IMAR called a series of urgent meetings in schools, colleges, and other units with a majority Mongolian population beginning as early as Dec. 1 and ordered the suspension of all public events in the region after announcing his scheduled release.
The group said in a statement that authorities aim to punish Hada and his family for their continued support of Mongolian independence from Chinese rule through peaceful means.
“SMHRIC considers the Chinese authorities’ acts of ongoing and persistent persecution of Hada’s family as a well-planned retaliation against the family’s refusal to acquiesce to the authorities’ demands for silence.”
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.
Mongols are a recognized ethnic minority in China and number around 6 million according to government statistics.
Reported by Joshua Lipes.