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Mongolian Rights Advocate Released from Detention, Placed under House Arrest
Congressional Executive Commission on China
June 25, 2008
Washington D.C.

Authorities in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region (IMAR) have placed Mongolian rights activist and journalist Naranbilig under house arrest after detaining him for 20 days in March and April, according to reports from the U.S.-based Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center (SMHRIC). Naranbilig had planned to attend the United Nations (UN) Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York when authorities intercepted his invitation letter and detained him on March 23, according to an April 28 report from SMHRIC. Authorities prevented Naranbilig from consulting with a lawyer while he was detained, and his family members were not informed of the grounds for his detention or of his whereabouts. Authorities released Naranbilig on bail on April 23 and placed him under house arrest for one year, according to the report. They also confiscated his passport.

The SMHRIC connected Naranbilig's detention not only to his plan to attend the Permanent Forum but also to his attendance in 2007 at other international forums promoting the rights of pastoralists and mobile indigenous people, according to a
statement delivered by the SMHRIC at the Permanent Forum. The Chinese government does not recognize any populations within its borders as "indigenous peoples" as defined under international law. (For an example of Chinese policy on this matter, see. e.g., a 1997 statement by the Chinese delegation to the 53rd session of the UN Commission on Human Rights, via the Web site of the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in Switzerland.) Naranbilig's detention also stemmed from his broader activities writing articles advocating ethnic minority rights and criticizing Chinese policies toward ethnic Mongols, according to the SMHRIC statement. (For more information on government policy toward Mongols, see Christopher P. Atwood's statement at the 2005 CECC roundtable on China's Ethnic Regional Autonomy Law: Does it Protect Minority Rights?, as well as the Special Focus section on ethnic minorities in the Congressional-Executive Commission on China 2005 Annual Report.) Authorities also have detained and imprisoned other ethnic Mongols who have promoted ethnic minority rights. In March, authorities detained, and later placed under house arrest, activist Tsebegjab for his interaction with overseas Mongolian activists, according to the April 28 report. Bookstore owner Hada continues to serve a 15-year sentence for "splittism" and "espionage" after he organized peaceful protests for ethnic rights in the IMAR capital of Hohhot.

Naranbilig's detention came at a period of increased government repression of citizen activism, especially by ethnic minorities, in the run-up to the Olympic Games and amid protests in Tibetan and
Uighur areas of China. His detention also came amid the recent detention and imprisonment of several other fellow writers. (See, for example, CECC analyses on Lu Gengsong and Wang Dejia (1,2.) For more information on conditions in the IMAR, see Section II--Ethnic Minority Rights, in the CECC 2007 Annual Report (via the Government Printing Office Web site). For more information on restrictions against writers, see Section II--Freedom of Expression in the 2007 Annual Report.

Source: -See Summary (2008-06-03 / English) | Posted on: 2008-06-25

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