Jan 31, 2011

Southern Mongolia: Political Prisoner Still in Detention after 15 Years in Prison

Having served a 15-year sentence in prison, Mongolian democracy activist Hada now remains held in custody a month after his release from prison, family members say he seems malnourished and unwell. 

Below is an article published by the Canadian Press:

An activist who campaigned for Inner Mongolia's independence from China has made his first contact with family more than a month after he was released from prison, but his uncle says Hada is still being held and appears malnourished.

The uncle, Haschuluu, told The Associated Press on Friday [28 January 2011] that he was invited to meet Hada on Jan. 21 at a military-run guesthouse in the Inner Mongolian capital, Hohhot.

Haschuluu said he was not comfortable talking about who is holding Hada or why, but he told the U.S.-based Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center that authorities told him Hada was staying in an "absolutely quiet" place.

Like many ethnic Mongolians, Hada and Haschuluu use just one name.

Hada's case is the latest of Chinese authorities holding someone without explanation after their prison term ended. He was jailed in 1996 on charges of separatism and spying.

While separatism among Mongolians living in Chinese-controlled Inner Mongolia is not well known, it's a sensitive issue for China's government, which fears the spread of the violent ethnic unrest that has hit Tibet and Xinjiang in recent years.

Hada helped found the Southern Mongolian Democratic Alliance, seeking to establish an independent nation in Inner Mongolia. His bookstore in Hohhot became the centre of the movement.

Hada's family has expressed frustration with the mysterious communications surrounding his release. The Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center published two videos this week sent from an unknown email address. The second showed Hada walking with Haschuluu down a street with no one else around.

"Hada is in safe condition, but he's in poor health," Haschuluu said. "They gave him good food, including fruits and vegetables, but he just wouldn't eat them. He looks malnourished."

Haschuluu said neither he nor Hada knows where Hada's wife, Xinna, or son, Uiles, is. Both were detained shortly before Hada's 15-year prison sentence ended last month.

A person answering the telephone at the Inner Mongolia Military Zone Guesthouse in Hohhot, where Haschuluu met with his nephew, had no comment on Hada.

The London-based rights group Amnesty International has called for the release of Hada and his wife and son.