|January 2, 2007
Hada at the Inner Mongolia Jail No.4
at Chifeng City. (SMHRIC photo)
- The health of an ethnic Mongolian Chinese political prisoner
has seriously deteriorated, his wife said on Monday, pleading
with the outside world not to forget her husband and keep
Hada was tried behind closed
doors in China’s northern Inner Mongolia region in 1996 and
sentenced to 15 years in jail for separatism and spying and his
support for the Southern Mongolian Democratic Alliance, which
sought greater rights for ethnic Mongolians.
“He is not being treated well. He
is ill and had aged and weakened visibly the last time I saw
him,” Hada’s wife Xinna told Reuters in an interview in the
Inner Mongolian city of Hohhot on the day restrictions on
foreign journalists’ travel were eased.
“He is not even allowed to
receive the food, books or newspapers I send him,” she said over
a traditional Mongolian breakfast of salty tea, cheese and fried
dough. Amnesty International considers Hada a prisoner of
conscience and has expressed fear about his health and that he
has been tortured.
Xinna said she did not know if he
had been tortured, but added that he was banned from speaking
Mongolian to other prisoners and that he was being kept in
He is in jail in Chifeng, a city
in Inner Mongolia northeast of Beijing.
Hada ran a Mongolian-language
bookshop in Hohhot, along with his wife.
Inner Mongolia is supposed to
have a high degree of autonomy, but like Tibet and Xinjiang in
the far west, Beijing in practice keeps a tight rein on the
region, fearing ethnic unrest in the country’s strategic border
Xinna said that she was not
optimistic her husband would be released early, even as a sign
of goodwill ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and appealed for
continued pressure from outside the country.
“I have written so many letters
to President Hu Jintao. China continues to lock up people from
ethnic minorities as it has done for decades. People are still
dying in jail,” she said. “I have never received a response.”
“We need the support of the media
and human rights groups to make sure he is not forgotten,” Xinna
Xinna has been detained by police
twice, but never formally charged.
Her last brush with the
authorities was in November, when police raided Mongolian book
and music shops across Hohhot and seized stock on the pretext of
cracking down on copyright piracy.
She said she had been forewarned
of the raid and managed to minimise her losses, but the police
kept tabs on her constantly.
“It’s been better in the last two
years, since the foreign press started paying attention to this
case,” Xinna said, standing on a snow-covered pavement outside
her shop, where she sells everything from children’s books to
“They watch me all the time,” she
added, pointing to an unmarked car with blacked-out windows
parked across the street.
Xinna says she tries to keep her
hopes up, but with her husband so far away — Chifeng is several
hundred kilometres east of Hohhot — she can see him at most only
twice a year.
“He doesn’t even have the right
to read,” she added sadly.