Mongol Activist, Family Members Harassed and Detained as Release Date of Political Prisoner Hada Nears (Updated)

December 8, 2010

In advance of Mongol activist and political prisoner Hada's anticipated December 10 release from prison, authorities in Inner Mongolia have harassed, placed under house arrest, and detained some of Hada's family members and fellow activists. Public security officers took Hada's wife Xinna into detention on December 4. They also took her son Uiles into custody on December 4 and released him later that day, but placed him in detention on December 5. In mid-November, authorities placed Mongol activist Govruud Huuchinhuu under house arrest, in apparent connection to her plans to greet Hada upon his anticipated release from prison. The legal basis under which she was confined to her home is not clear. Officials reportedly later allowed her to leave her home, but continue to keep her under watch. The recent events underscore the challenges Mongols have faced in upholding their rights and preserving their culture. Authorities in Inner Mongolia have repressed independent expressions of ethnic identity among Mongols, implemented policies that have eroded Mongols' pastoral livelihoods, and placed curbs on Mongolian language Web sites.

Public security officers in Saihan district, Hohhot, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region (IMAR), detained Mongol bookstore owner Xinna at her bookstore on December 4, 2010, in connection to the upcoming scheduled release from prison of her husband, Mongol activist Hada, according to December 4 and December 8, 2010, Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center (SMHRIC) reports. Authorities confiscated items from the store including books and CDs and also searched a warehouse connected to the bookstore, confiscating Xinna's diary, her son's computer, business records, and other items. Public security officers also took Xinna and Hada's son Uiles into custody on December 4 and released him later that day, while holding Xinna at the Inner Mongolia Public Security Department Detention Center for allegedly "running an illegal business." On December 5, public security officers placed Uiles in detention at the same detention center as his mother, according to the reports. Xinna suffers from a heart condition, according to SMHRIC, and Uiles was not allowed to bring medications to her prior to his own detention. Xinna's current health condition is not known. SMHRIC connected the recent events to official efforts to quell publicity about Hada's upcoming release. Uiles said that authorities took him into custody on December 4 for "spreading the word through the Internet," and in a December 5 Radio Free Asia (RFA) report, SMHRIC's spokesperson noted interviews Xinna and Uiles had given to foreign media outlets and human rights groups. Uiles said that while he was in custody on December 4, he refused to sign a pledge that he would not convey information about his family by phone or Internet, would cut ties with his parents, and would not "carry out any separatist activities." In addition, SMHRIC reported in its December 4 article that in advance of Hada's scheduled release from prison, authorities in the IMAR also have harassed, detained, and put under house arrest other family members and activists. Hada's uncle Haschuluu reported to SMHRIC that public security officers have harassed him since he gave foreign media interviews. In addition, authorities detained activist Arslan and told him not to plan to welcome Hada's release. He is now under house arrest, according to SMHRIC.

In addition, public security officers in Ke'erqin (Horchin) district, Tongliao city, IMAR, placed Govruud Huuchinhuu, a Mongol activist and writer, under house arrest on November 11, 2010, in apparent connection to her plans to welcome Hada upon his anticipated release from prison, according to a November 16, 2010, SMHRIC article and November 18 RFA report. Officers had taken her to the Ke'erqin District Public Security Bureau (PSB) earlier that day, before placing her under house arrest. Based on information in the articles, it appears that Govruud Huuchinhuu's house arrest may have amounted to a form of home confinement that lacks basis in Chinese law, as also may be the case for Arslan. Under Articles 50 and 58 of China's Criminal Procedure Law (English, Chinese), public security officers, prosecutors, and courts can impose "residential surveillance" on criminal suspects for a period of up to six months, but it is unclear if the Ke'erqin PSB officials ordered formal residential surveillance in this case. Govruud Huuchinhuu reported in the RFA article that she received no formal documentation from public security officials on the nature of the actions against her and that no proceedings occurred while she was at the PSB office. Govruud Huuchinhuu told RFA that her house arrest likely was linked to activist Hada's anticipated release. She reported that she had described plans on her blog to greet him upon his release and said that authorities "probably detained me under house arrest ahead of time, for fear that I would spread the news around." In a November 26 Agence France-Presse article (via Yahoo!), before her detention, Hada's wife Xinna was paraphrased as saying that "Huuchinhuu was now being allowed to leave home but is followed by police and faces other restrictions." Xinna also reported that since April, authorities had not permitted her (Xinna) to visit her husband in prison.

According to SMHRIC and RFA, Govruud Huuchinhuu is an activist and writer who has promoted the rights of ethnic Mongols in China and has criticized Chinese government policy in the IMAR. She is a member of an organization banned by Chinese authorities, the Southern Mongolian Democratic Alliance (SMDA), which Hada led. She also moderated several online discussion fora on Web sites that SMHRIC reports have been closed for "posting separatism contents" and "discussing ethnic problems." (As reported in the Congressional-Executive Commission on China 2010 Annual Report and a previous analysis, authorities have targeted some Mongolian-language Web sites and Mongol discussion sites for scrutiny and closure in recent years.) SMHRIC reported Govruud Huuchinhuu has been detained and harassed on multiple occasions in the past and in 2007 was denied a passport and barred from traveling abroad for a five-year period.

The recent cases of harassment, house arrest, and detention come as Hada faces a scheduled release from prison on December 10, 2010, upon expiration of his 15-year sentence. As noted in the Congressional-Executive Commission on China Political Prisoner Database, authorities detained Hada on December 11, 1995, after he organized peaceful protests for ethnic rights in the IMAR capital city of Hohhot. The Hohhot Intermediate People's Court sentenced him on December 26, 1996, to the 15-year prison term for "splittism" and "espionage," crimes under Articles 103 and 110 of China's Criminal Law (English, Chinese). (Some sources report a November 11, 1996, sentencing date.) The Inner Mongolia High People’s Court rejected Hada’s appeal in January 1997. Hada is held in the Inner Mongolia No. 4 Prison in Chifeng, IMAR, where he is reportedly in poor health, has been denied proper medical treatment, and has been subject to routine physical abuse.

Hada's case and the recent events surrounding his scheduled release underscore the challenges Mongols have faced in upholding their rights. As reported in the CECC 2009 and 2010 Annual Reports, authorities in the IMAR have repressed independent expressions of Mongol ethnic identity and punished Mongols who have aimed to protect their rights and preserve their culture, language, and pastoral livelihoods. In late 2009 and 2010, authorities detained Batzangaa, who ran a traditional Mongolian medicine school which held activities with Mongols and Tibetans, and Sodmongol, a rights activist whom authorities detained at the Beijing airport as he was en route to attend the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

For more information on conditions in the IMAR, see Section II―Ethnic Minorities in the CECC 2010 Annual Report.

UPDATE, December 10, 2010: Hada's prison sentence expired on December 10, but family members have not received confirmation of his release, according to a December 11, 2010, report from the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center. Hada's uncle Haschuluu said that a state security officer earlier implied that Hada had been moved from his prison in Chifeng to Hohhot, in an apparent effort to prevent people from meeting him upon his release. Xinna's sister reported that she received official detention notices for the detentions of Xinna and Uiles. Authorities detained Xinna for allegedly "running an illegal business," as reported earlier, while authorities have detained Uiles for allegedly "being involved in drug dealing," according to the report.