Wife of a prominent Inner Mongolian imprisoned dissident says, the violation of rights of ethnic Mongolians in China has been ignored by the international community, and the survival of Mongolian culture is under threat.
An ethnic Mongolian intellectual, Hada was sentenced to 15 years in jail in 1996 charged with separatism, espionage and supporting the Southern Mongolian Democratic Alliance, a group that demanded greater autonomy for the ethnic Mongols.
Freedom of Speech
In the early 1990s, Hada ran a bookstore in Inner Mongolia’s capital city Hohhot and sold books about Mongolian literature and culture and Mongolian artworks. Local Mongols frequently gathered in Hada’s bookstore to discuss political issues.
Currently Hada’s wife Xinna is managing the bookstore. Interviewed in her Hohhot city bookstore, she told the Reuters correspondent that her husband was arrested for expressing his political views in the bookstore.
Xinna said, during Hada’s 10+ years of imprisonment, she has constantly been harassed by the authorities. Her residence has been closely monitored, and she was refused a passport to travel abroad to receive an award given to her.
When she visited the local Public Security Bureau to ask about her passport application status, she was told that her passport application was turned down due to her husband’s case. A police officer told her that if he gives her a passport he will be in trouble and will lose his job.
Hada’s son Uiles says, visiting his father has become increasingly difficult especially during the Olympics. Uiles doesn’t understand why visiting his father during the period of the Olympics would constitute a threat to state security or why taking a note for his father’s daily necessity (during prison visits) ill become an act of breaking laws and regulations.
Xinna points out that discontent has been growing among the Mongols who feel strong pressure under Chinese culture. The rights of minorities have been violated, and their demands for equality and justice have been completely ignored. This has caused dissension among the minorities and conflicts between the Chinese.
Inner Mongolia is a Chinese ethnic autonomy region. However, similar to Tibet and Xinjiang, it has been under Beijing’s strict control due to the Central Government’s surveillance and vigilance over the strategically important ethnic minority frontier regions.
Decades of Chinese migrations to Inner Mongolia have made the Mongols a minority on their own land. Official statistics show that the Mongols comprise only 20% of the total population of 24 million.
Xinna says, the traditional culture of the local Mongols has been increasingly marginalized, and the Mongolian language has been ignored and gradually been replaced by the Chinese language. Parents who were educated in Mongolian and treated unfairly certainly do not want their kids to be educated in Mongolian. The forces of the market economy are causing the Mongols to abandon their language because Chinese language skills afford better job opportunities.
Since the Tibetan unrest and resistance to the Olympics torch relay in March this year, attention has again been drawn to China’s treatment of the minorities.
Although there has been no such large scale protests and unrest in Inner Mongolia as in Tibet and Xinjiang, rights groups said, the Chinese Government has secretly arrested those suspected of engaging in separatism and harassed activists.
This March, the Chinese police authorities arrested Naranbilig who has relentlessly spoken against the Chinese migration to Inner Mongolia. Naranbilig is still under house arrest, and recently another dissident named Tsebegjab has also been put under house arrest.
Amnesty International recognized Hada as a “prisoner of conscience” and is concerned about his physical and mental condition.