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Hada's Wife Xinna's Open Letter to Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao

By Xinna, Wife of Hada
March 26, 2008
English translation from Chinese by SMHRIC

Dear Mr. Hu Jintao and Mr. Wen Jiabao


My husband Hada was sentenced to a 15 year term in December 1995 and has now completed his 13th year at the Inner Mongolia Jail No.4 in Chifeng City. He was charged with  “splitting the country and engaging in espionage”. Currently his health condition is extremely poor. Last winter he fell into a coma in the prison toilet. None of the medications given him in jail have helped him relieve his pain or to recover from his poor health. It is heartbreaking to see him each time that I go to visit him; he looks like a totally different person from the one he was before he was sent to jail. A more outrageous event is that, on March 18 this year, the Chifeng Prison officials including the vice head, Zhang Zhixin, illegally confiscated my husband’s letter of appeal that he wanted to pass on to me, openly depriving us of our legal rights. I hope you will pay special attention to this brazen and unlawful act in violation of the “Prison Act” and punish the responsible parties. I am writing to you now because we have been sending our appeal for many years, but no response has been received.

I, along with many Mongols and others, refuse to accept the charges against Hada. The reason why the international community pays attention to this case and protests his punishment is that it is a typical case of ethnic repression.

The recent events in Tibet have attracted my attention and I have some comments. First of all, given the protesters and marchers are reportedly few in number, why did the Chinese Government mobilize a large number of tanks, armed vehicles and troops to the Tibetan communities in Tibet, Huhnuur (Qing Hai), Gan Su, and Si Chuan? There is no need to expel foreign journalists and shutdown internet sites. Wouldn’t it be more compelling to let them make unbiased reports? I am still waiting for Premier Wen Jia Bao to show us a solid evidence of how the Dalai Lama “masterminded the riot”. China has supposedly started to walk the road of ‘rule of law’ and it is inappropriate for a national leader to accuse anybody without any evidence. It is especially unwise for a national leader to slander the Dalai Lama in a “Cultural Revolution” fashion. The Dalai Lama is a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, commanding great international influence and is highly respected by the Tibetans and Mongols due to their religious connections. All these will make things worse. Second, the Central Government should re-consider the root cause of this event. If the Central Government has really done so much for the Tibetan people in the past decades as Chinese news media report, why aren’t the Tibetans thankful to the Chinese Government instead of being resentful and subversive? Why do they so easily listen to the Dalai Lama’s “instigation”? The Government should analyze the internal and external factors as well as the causes and effects of this event in a rational manner, face squarely the various unresolved questions including the ethnic problems along historical lines, correct its mistakes and come up with a reasonable solution. Continuing emphasis on mistaken policies will only sharpen the conflict. Three, I have noticed that a large number of Chinese people have also expressed their full understanding and sympathies and re-examined the past relationship with the Tibetans. This unprecedented positive change tells us that after 30 years of “Reform and Open-up”, Chinese people have improved their ideological beliefs. Thanks to the era of the internet, their field of vision has increasingly been widened, and their ideas about democracy have strengthened greatly.

I think this round of Tibetan unrest has just exposed the mistakes made in the past by the Chinese Government when dealing with ethnic problems. In fact, the Tibetan issue, the Uyghur issue and the Mongolian issue are identical in their very nature. All ethnic minorities’ discontent and disobedience are the direct result of deprivation of legal rights of the ethnic minorities and the repression of their legitimate requests. On the other hand, the ethnic problem is an issue of democracy and human rights in nature, including the right of ethnic minorities as well as other Chinese citizens to reclaim their legal rights. This is one of the reasons why a large number of Chinese people are so supportive of this unrest.

After the Cold War ended, social ideology has gradually weakened and the nationality question has become one of the main factors of social instability. Speaking of China’s nationality question, it has been characterized as “minority regions have large territories and contain natural resources but the Han majority has an over-burdened population”. No doubt, the conflict between the two will intensify if ethnic relations are not properly addressed and the minorities are not treated equally. For instance, in Inner Mongolia, on the one hand, not only the Mongols have strived and called for the protection of the grassland environment but also some Chinese intellectuals who had lived in the grasslands during the Cultural Revolution have directly pointed out that: “who made the grassland over-burdened? Not the herders, but the settlers who came from elsewhere”; “who is the legitimate owner of the grasslands?” “horse-back people is no longer on horse back because the grasslands simply can’t feed horses any more”; “as grasslands continue to deteriorate, the herders’ life has gone from bad to worse. No medical care, no livestock to sell, and no money to send their children to school”; “why are the authorities sloganeering to keep the last piece of grassland green? Because there is no grassland left green. Everything has been turned to desert.” On the other hand, decision makers and interest groups are speeding up the cultivation and opening-up of the grasslands. Today, coal mining has become the major industry of Inner Mongolia and the annual yields have become number two in China. As early as 2005, leaders of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region claimed that Shiliin-gol Grassland, one of the four pieces of the most well-preserved natural grasslands on earth, should be “opened up” to an industrialized area like the Autonomous Region’s Ordos Municipality during the 11th 5 Year Plan. The world coal giant China Shen Hua openly claimed to invest 200 billion in Shiliin-gol to make it “one of the major leading industrial areas of Inner Mongolia”. Local Mongols’ resistance can by no means stop these strong interest groups from exploiting the grassland. Within a very short period, the landscape of lush and beautiful grasslands where livestock had freely roamed has become part of our history; local Mongols’ way of life has been altered forever and our traditional culture and customs have completely disappeared. This is how the Central Government’s “doctrine of scientific development” is implemented in Inner Mongolia.

If you take a look at the larger picture of China, the so-called ethnic minority areas’ economic development is always carried out on the basis of sacrificing the ethnic minorities’ economic interests. Most of the development and opening-up projects hire cadres and workers from Han majority regions and form their own system, considering minority areas as raw material base only, making the minority groups play the role of raw material provider only and marginalizing them from modern economic. If minority groups are denied ownership rights to their own natural resources, economic development of minority regions and the common wealth of all the nationalities will never be achieved, so that political development will be even more difficult. In regard to this issue, minorities in China have equally felt discontented and the problems they face are also identical.

My husband Hada merely expressed his opinion on these ethnic questions in the 1990’s. As a result he was labeled as an anti-revolutionary and given a harsh punishment as “ethnic separatist”. Currently he is still in prison under extremely harsh conditions. The recent Tibetan unrest is a direct result of the worsening ethnic problem in Tibet which  reminds me of its  similarity to the ethnic problems in Inner Mongolia, such as my husband’s unjust punishment and unfair treatment.

In recent years, the Chinese Communist Party has come up with a slogan of “more humane and sustainable development”, “building up a Chinese-style harmonious socialist society”. More recently, emphasis is put on “making use of power more transparent”. All these positive gestures as well as the upcoming Olympics encouraged me to appeal the following to you:

  1. Return to the citizens including the minorities the right to free speech, free press, free assembly and free expression that are guaranteed by the Constitution;

  2. Urge the Government to face squarely the ethnic issue and return the right to autonomy and self-determination to the ethnic minorities in accordance with Chinese laws and international conventions;

  3. Release all political prisoners including my husband Hada and others imprisoned for ethnic issues and stop persecuting and treating unfairly  individuals on the basis of their political opinions;

I believe solving ethnic problems in an environment of democracy and rule of law is the wisest way to tackle the issue. I also firmly believe that China will eventually move toward democracy and rule of law and all ethnic groups should strive for this historic process side by side. I also expect that You two leaders will bring to the people a long-expected “Hu-Wen New Era” during your second political term.

Sincerely yours,

Xinna, citizen of Inner Mongolia

March 26, 2008



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Close to Eden (Urga): France, Soviet Union, directed by Nikita Mikhilkov

Beyond Great WallsBeyond Great Walls: Environment, Identity, and Development on the Chinese Grasslands of Inner Mongolia

The Mongols at China's EdgeThe Mongols at China's Edge: History and the Politics of National Unity

China's Pastoral RegionChina's Pastoral Region: Sheep and Wool, Minority Nationalities, Rangeland Degradation and Sustainable Development

Changing Inner MongoliaChanging Inner Mongolia: Pastoral Mongolian Society and the Chinese State (Oxford Studies in Social and Cultural Anthropology)

Grasslands and Grassland Science in Northern ChinaGrasslands and Grassland Science in Northern China: A Report of the Committee on Scholarly Communication With the People's Republic of China

The Ordos Plateau of ChinaThe Ordos Plateau of China: An Endangered Environment (Unu Studies on Critical Environmental Regions)
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