April 19-30, 2010
Ladies and Gentlemen,
My name is Enghebatu Togochog, and I represent the indigenous Mongolian people in China.
Thank you Mr. Chairperson for giving me this opportunity to talk about our concerns. We also take this opportunity to express our gratitude to the Permanent Forum and the Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Populations for inviting our Mongolian community leader Mr. Sodmongol, an indigenous rights defender and human rights activist, to attend the Permanent Forum 9th Session and providing him with the funds for his trip to New York.
Unfortunately, he is not here today, because he was arrested by the Chinese authorities on April 18 at the Beijing Capital International Airport on his way to attend the Permanent Forum 9th Session. Immediately after his arrest, the local police raided his residence and confiscated his personal properties including his computers, cell phones and other items. His family members were warned not to publicize his arrest to others especially to the Permanent Forum and the Voluntary Fund. They were warned that any action of appealing for his release will bring serious consequences to himself and his family members. Currently his whereabouts and health condition remain unknown.
Mr. Chairperson, this is the second time the Chinese authorities have arrested the indigenous Mongolian representatives to block them from attending the Permanent Forum. Two years ago, another Voluntary Fund grantee, Mr. Naranbilig was also arrested by the Chinese authorities and put under one year house arrest after a 20-day detention in his attempt to attend the Permanent Forum 7th Session. The authorities confiscated his passport and barred him from attending any future international events.
Mr. Chairperson, China has voted for the United Nations Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples without considering its 55 indigenous peoples as “indigenous”. The Chinese Government made it clear that the reason for China’s support for the Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples is that China has no indigenous people and no indigenous issue within its borders. The justification to this claim is that, according to the Chinese Government official statement, indigenous issues are a product of Western colonization ONLY despite the fact that China is colonizing nations of Southern Mongolia, Tibet, Uyghur and other indigenous peoples whose territories take up about 60% of the territory of China.
Mr. Chairperson, China’s arrest of indigenous Mongolian representatives to the Permanent Forum is not only a clear violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but a also a direct challenge to the Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples that China is bound to.
We urge the Permanent Forum, Special Rapporteur, and the Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights to take an immediate action for the release of Mr. Sodmongol, and urge the Chinese Government to respect the basic human rights and fundamental freedom of the indigenous Mongolians, Tibetans, Uyghurs and other peoples.
Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center
68-37 108th Street, 6A
Forest Hills, NY 11375, U.S.A.