The wife of Inner Mongolian dissident Hada has written to Chinese president Xi Jinping calling for her husband's immediate release amid growing fears for his health.
Hada, in his mid-50s, is being held under de facto house arrest after 15 years in jail on charges of "separatism" and "espionage."
Family members and rights activists say that he is suffering from deteriorating mental health and has been denied medical treatment under extrajudicial detention at the Jinye Ecological Park in the regional capital of Hohhot.
"This is a form of horrific persecution perpetrated against ethnic Mongolians who oppose [government policies] in a lawful manner," his wife Xinna wrote in an open letter to Xi, posted online this week.
"The human rights of ethnic minorities in China have been violently trampled," she said.
"I call on Xi Jinping to end the illegal house arrest of Hada immediately," Xinna wrote.
Hada's uncle Haschuluu told RFA's Mandarin Service on Wednesday that he has received no news of Hada since Feb. 20.
"He called me once last month," Haschuluu said. "[The couple's son] Uiles hasn't called me for a very long time."
Held on false charges
Xinna and Uiles under virtual house arrest, at their home, March 2014. (SMHRIC photo)
Xinna and Uiles were both detained shortly before Hada's scheduled release in December 2010, when authorities raided the family's Mongol-language bookstore.
Xinna was held on charges of "conducting illegal business" and Uiles for alleged drug possession. The two were later released but kept under official surveillance.
"He wouldn't [do drugs]," Haschuluu said. "Where would he get the money to buy drugs from?"
He also rejected the allegations against Xinna, adding, "They are just trying to frame them."
According to the New York-based Southern Mongolian Human Rights and Information Center (SMHRIC), Xinna herself is also under threat of further detention.
Xinna told SMHRIC in an interview this week that restrictions imposed on her family were clearly detailed in a recent text message from the Hohhot police department.
"Turn on your cell phone and be on standby," the message said. "To leave Hohhot, you must obtain approval."
"Report your status to us via text message once a week. You will be given a warning if you do not follow the above-mentioned instruction. You will be jailed after three warnings," it said.
Xinna said she has already received two warnings after refusing to comply, and fears she will be detained again soon.
'A lawless country'
She described Hada as being "in poor health and suffering from serious depression."
"China is a lawless country where the law enforcement authorities themselves violate the laws," she said.
"No law works in this country. Everything is done through private deals."
She said her family now has no income to speak of.
"We want our freedom, freedom to live as a free person, freedom to run our bookstore," Xinna told SMHRIC in a phone interview this week.
She rejected an "offer" by the local police to help the family buy a larger house, but with no mention of an end to surveillance.
"We have the ability to make a living without any so-called 'help' from the government if we are given our freedom," Xinna said.
"I am permanently barred from running the bookstore. Uiles is denied the right to employment also," she said.
Hada was arrested in 1995 for his activism advocating for greater autonomy for China's six million ethnic Mongolians.
His sentence also contained an additional four years' "deprivation of political rights," which under China's Criminal Law includes restrictions on voting, as well as on freedom of speech and association.
Authorities say they are keeping Hada under house arrest because he and his family will not "cooperate" or stop speaking out about his case.Reported by Qiao Long for RFA's Mandarin Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.