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Prominent Dissident Muunohai's Book Banned as Suppression of Mongolian Publications Intensifies

February 26, 2007
New York

As Mongols prepared to celebrate a peaceful and happy traditional Chagaan Sar (New Year) in Southern Mongolia in mid-February, the doors of Mongolian dissidents, writers, bookstores and souvenir shops were being knocked on by unwelcome visitors --- police, security personnel and Cultural Management officials, who were being dispatched to question Mongolian dissidents and writers, confiscate Mongolian books and magazines, and punish Mongolian store owners and distributors for alleged distribution and sale of “illegal” publications.

"Golomt", a Mongolian monthly journal has been closed down after its 5th issue for "having no authentic ISBN"



Just before New Years Day, February 18, 2007, five officers from the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region’s Cultural Market Management Bureau (文化市场管理局)came to the prominent Mongolian dissident Muunohai’s home and confiscated several hundred books and other materials after an intensive search of his home. Among those confiscated, “Dream-like Life” (“梦幻人生” --- Click here for the electronic version of the book), a memoir by Mr. Muunohai, was particularly targeted because of alleged “involvement in illegal publication”.  

“The primary pretext for coming to my home and confiscating my books is a simple one: ‘illegal publication’”, said Muunohai in a telephone interview with the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center. “Five people from the Autonomous Region’s Cultural Management Bureau raided my home and confiscated more than 100 copies of my book ‘Dream-like Life’ including both Mongolian and Chinese versions after an aggressive search.”

Mr. Muunohai, born in 1921, is one of the most well-known Mongolian scholars and experts on Marxism and ethnic issues, in particular the ethnic conflicts of Southern Mongolia. He has been an intimate witness to the 20th century Southern Mongolian struggles for independence and as well as to the numerous campaigns of political suppression including Prince Demchugdongrob’s independence and autonomy movements, Inner Mongolian Alliance of Autonomous Movement of the 30’s and 40’s, Anti-rightist Movement, Massacre against the Mongols during the Cultural Revolution, Crackdowns of Mongolian Students Movement of 1981 and Southern Mongolian Democratic Alliance headed by Hada. Muunohai has been an outspoken critic of China’s heavy-handed ethnic policy in Southern Mongolia throughout his life. Across 50+ papers and 10 books, Muunohai has been sharply questioned Communist China’s political ideology and hypocrisy on nationality issues. In his writings, he has frequently invoked the principles of Marx-Leninism in attacking the main tenets of Maoism and the Chinese brand of Socialism. His political views have cost him frequent of detentions and house arrests.

His book “Dream-like Life”, a memoir chronicling his own personal experiences and political views, directly confronts China’s Nationality Autonomy policy, questioning its legitimacy, asking “if the so-called autonomy [of the minority peoples, as guaranteed by the Chinese Communist Constitution] is genuine autonomy or in name only?” He compared the CCP with the Qing Emperor’s dictatorship and concludes “what the Chinese government is doing is nothing more than a defense of all dictatorship regimes”.

When asked if the book has a legitimate International Standard Book Number (ISBN), Muunohai replied, “yes, it has an authentic ISBN obtained from Tian Ma Publishing House in Hong Kong. Despite this legal ISBN, the fact is that any publication in Southern Mongolia can be labeled as ‘illegal’ if you don’t have an ISBN issued by a government designated publishing house.” One of Muunohai’s close friends in Huhhot who asked not to be identified revealed to the Center that in recent months Muunohai has been frequently visited and questioned by the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region’s public security personnel regarding the publication of his book. The source also confirmed that at least five personal computers and dozens of CDs and DVDs containing the electronic versions of Muunohai’s books and other works were confiscated at his assistant’s home by the public security authorities in early February. A fine of 2,000 yuan was issued to Muunohai for the “illegal publication”.

 “This is not an isolated event. Recently, many other Mongolian books have been banned and confiscated and their authors have been questioned by the authorities,” says Ms. Xinna, wife of the imprisoned dissident, Hada. Xinna was detained for 6 hours on February 13 at the Huhhot City Administrative Detention Center (呼和浩特市行政拘留所) for visiting Muunohai at his home just before the Mongolian traditional New Year. Information from Southern Mongolia confirms that a new round of tougher cultural suppression has taken place in Southern Mongolia under the slogan of “cracking down on illegal publication and piracy” which in its generality is intended to conceal the true target of the suppression campaign --- publications related to Mongolian cultural identity and national sentiment.

Mr. Bayantai, an ethnic Mongol and the author of a book entitled “True Story of Uprooting and Cleaning up of the Inner Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party”(“挖肃灾难实录” in Chinese), was frequently questioned and put under house arrest by the authorities for alleged “illegal publication and distribution” of his book. This 219 page first hand account describes how the Chinese Communist Party’s massacre of Mongolians was carried out during the Cultural Revolution. A copy of the book was obtained by SMHRIC and its electronic version is available at 

Another book entitled “我所知道的德王和当时的内蒙古”, Chinese version of “The Last Mongol Prince: The Life and Times of Demchugdongrob, 1902-1966”, was also banned and recalled from sellers as well as purchasers in January 2007. The author, Jagchid Sechin, a retired professor of Brigham Young University and a prolific writer on 20th century Southern Mongolian history, who himself was an active member of the Southern Mongolian independence movement led by Prince Demchugdongronb and others, describes in great detail the history of the Southern Mongolian struggle for independence during the first half of the 20th century. Professor Jagchid’s book carried an “authentic” ISBN issued by China’s official publication agency – China Literature & History Publishing House (中国文史出版社) and was once allowed to be published in China in 2006. However, shortly after its publication, the book, along with other Mongolian publications, has been banned and recalled from Mongolian bookstores and confiscated from individual buyers. It was reported to be an extremely popular book among the Mongolian students and intellectuals.

A Mongolian monthly journal entitled “Golomt” (meaning “Divine Fire Place”) was also forced to stop publication in November 2006 after only 5 issues for the same charge of “having no authentic ISBN”. As an increasingly popular journal among the Southern Mongols, “Golomt” had encouraged the Mongols to use their native language and protect their traditional culture and rallied the Mongols to be more involved in their own matters and their own future. A communication from Southern Mongolia has revealed that all issues of the journal were translated into Chinese by the Autonomous Region Security Bureau for content reviewing and its editors were repeatedly questioned before it was closed down.

In addition to the suppression of Mongolian books and publications, at least a dozen Mongolian bookstores and souvenir shops in Hohhot City were raided by the Cultural Management Bureau as the authorities’ so-called “Hundred Day Anti-piracy Strike Hard Movement” had taken place during November 2006.

“These are just the tip of the iceberg,” says Ms. Xinna who runs a Mongolian bookstore in the regional capital Huhhot, “what we know of is just a small portion of cases which we happened to find out about in the regional capital.” “If you go to the League (equivalent to municipality) or Banner (equivalent to county) capitals, the situation is even worse where even a handkerchief with a couple of Mongolian letters printed on it could be grounds for a large fine or even possibly a store shutdown to an owner of a Mongolian bookstore or souvenir shop.”




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