Feb 10, 2011

Inner Mongolia: Dissident Writer Missing

Inner Mongolian activist Govruud Huuchinhuu has disappeared after two months of house arrest and harsh treatment by the Chinese authorities. The case is an example of Beijing’s minority policies which severely restrict the people’s freedom of expression.

Below is an article published by Radio Free Asia:

An ethnic Mongolian writer who had publicly backed a well-known political dissident is reported missing following her release from a hospital in northern China, according to her son.

Cheel Borjigin said his mother Govruud Huuchinhuu was said to have been released on January 27 [2011] from the hospital in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region’s (IMAR) Tongliao city, where she was recuperating from a stroke.

“During her stay in the hospital, the police told her that she was not allowed to go home, that they would arrange for room and board for her."

"Then I heard that they were taking her to a hotel or a guesthouse. And then I lost contact with her completely,” said Cheel, who lives in the United States.

He said he was never given an official explanation of what happened to his mother.

“Even if they blocked her access to the Internet, they should allow her the freedom to communicate, especially with her son who lives half a world away. Besides, my mom is in ill health. I am worried,” he said.

“Depriving her of her freedom to communicate is unconstitutional; moreover, it is inhumane. She should be allowed to resume all her rights as a citizen. First and foremost, they should let me contact her.”

Calls to the Tongliao Public Security Bureau rang unanswered.

Huuchinhuu had earlier been held under house arrest since November 11 [2010] after being detained by security officials for organizing a rally ahead of the release from prison of Hada, an activist leader of the Southern Mongolia Democratic Alliance (SMDA).

Hada, who had spent 15 years in jail for “splittism” and “espionage," was believed to have been released on December 10 [2010] but was taken into custody again, along with his wife and son.

Cheel said his mother had written in her blog that Mongolians should welcome the release of Hada.

“Judging from what was said during ‘tea chats’ between the police and my mom, that’s the reason why they placed her under residential surveillance and confiscated her notebooks and cell phone.”

Cheel said more than 20 police officers guarded his mother around the clock and subjected her to harsh treatment during her house arrest, even with the suffering she endured because of her illness.

“My mother was constantly harassed by the police who guarded her round-the-clock in spite of the excruciating headaches she suffered day and night,” Cheel told the New York-based Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center (SMHRIC).

Huuchinhuu was admitted to the hospital in late December, but suffered from severe headaches for more than a month before being given medicine to temporarily relieve her pain.

“During her stay in the hospital, there were more than a dozen people standing guard outside her room. Only immediate families were allowed to visit with their permission,” Cheel said.

“In front of other patients in the hospital room, the police treated my mother rudely, using bad words, and called her a criminal.”

Govruud Huuchinhuu was detained by police in the city of Tongliao on November 11, 2010. RFA

In a November interview, Huuchinhuu said she had not been presented with any legal documents during her arrest.

The U.S. Congressional Executive Commission on China said at the time that Huuchinhuu's house arrest “may have amounted to a form of home confinement that lacks basis in Chinese law.”

A former activist in the 1981 Mongolian student movement, Huuchinhuu is an active member of the SMDA, an ethnic Mongolian organization that seeks the protection of Mongolian culture, language, and identity, and eventual independence from Chinese rule.

Huuchinhuu has written two books dealing with the problems faced by China’s ethnic Mongolians, and hundreds of political essays.

Both of her books, The Stone-hearted Tree and Silent Stone, were recently banned by the Chinese authorities and withdrawn from bookstores.

Huuchinhuu is also a keen advocate of press freedom, helping to run a number of online Mongolian discussion forums, all of which have now been shut down for posting "separatist content" and “discussing ethnic problems."