The following is an English transcript of the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center (SMHRIC) interview with Mr. Batzangaa, a Southern Mongolian exile and a UN asylum applicant who was deported back to China in a joint operation carried out by the governments of Mongolia and China. Batzangaa was sentenced to three years in jail with four years reprieve on January 27, 2011. During this an hour-long interview Batzangaa revealed striking details about how China and Mongolia worked together to deport him forcefully back to China:
SMHRIC: Hi, sain bainuu, this is the New York based Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center. We have read the court verdict on your case, and would like to interview you if you agree.
Batzangaa: Sure. No problem.
SMHRIC: Is the jail term 3 years?
Batzangaa: Yes, I was sentenced to 3 years in jail.
SMHRIC: What was the exact crime or charge?
Batzangaa: The criminal charge was “diverting a special fund” or “nuo yong te ding kuan wu” in Chinese.
SMHRIC: There was only a single criminal charge, right?
Batzangaa: Yes, one charge.
SMHRIC: According to the verdict, it says “3 years in jail with 4 years reprieve”. What does it mean?
Batzangaa: It means the authorities monitor me for four years before imprisoning me. If I make any mistake I will be sent to jail immediately.
SMHIRC: Does it mean if you commit any crime during this four year period you will be given a new jail term in addition to the stated 3 years?
Batzangaa: I am not sure because everything is determined by the will of the authorities. In fact the so-called “crime” of diverting 240,000 Yuan is groundless. As the principal of the school, I never diverted any funds for any purpose other than education which we are committed to.
SMHRIC: When we interviewed your wife after your deportation, she told us that the authorities were not able to find any evidence of crime after investigating your bank account and all financial activities many times. Did they find anything afterward?
Batzangaa: No, the authorities did not find anything that constitutes criminal activity. It is true that my school received 360,000 Yuan fund from the government as subsidy for minority education. From that, 240,000 Yuan were used for financial aid to students from other regions including Shiliin-gol and Jirim Leagues. The two main accusations were: 1) I provided education to students who were not the initial beneficiaries because the original agreement did not clearly name the beneficiaries; 2) Instead of setting up a special training course and curriculum I used existing classes and curricula, which perfectly meets the original requirement. There was no such request on the original agreement to setup a separate training course.
SMHRIC: So, what is the legal definition of “diverting a special fund”?
Batzangaa: “Diverting a special fund” means, let’s say, if you buy a car or house or similar things for yourself with a fund provided for the purpose of education, then you are diverting the special fund. But, I have done nothing like this.
SMHRIC: So, you are not pleading guilty, right?
Batzangaa: You are right. I am not guilty. I did not commit any crime. All their accusations are groundless and have no legal justification.
SMHRIC: Is Mr. Huhbulag still your attorney now?
Batzangaa: Yes, he is.
SMHIRC: How much freedom do you have now? Do you have any difficulties communicating with others via phone?
Batzangaa: My cell phone is, no doubt, being tapped. My Internet and home phone have been disconnected since 2009. They said this is because of the age of the exterior cable lines. But my neighbors all have Internet access. I requested restoration of my Internet and phone access, but it hasn’t been approved. They make up tons of excuses.
SMHRIC: Do you have freedom of movement?
Batzangaa: Wherever I go, I need to get approval from the authorities. Previously I had to get permission from the Public Security Bureau. Now I need to get permission from the court if I would like to go somewhere. I was also told that I need to get additional permission from the Residency Committee. Otherwise, I will be jailed. I can also be summoned at any time, so I need to constantly be ready.
SMHRIC: Are you considering an appeal to a higher court?
Batzangaa: Yes, I am preparing to appeal. This must be done within 10 days of the court’s pronouncement.
SMHRIC: What is your current legal status now?
Batzangaa: I am now free on “bail” (fa yuan qu bao hou shen in Chinese). Until January 15, 2011, I was on “bail pending trial” by the Public Security Bureau (gong an qu bao hou shen in Chinese).
SMHRIC: We saw your “bail warrant” (qu bao hou shen bao zheng shu). It says you must report to the authorities if anyone calls you from outside or overseas. What is the legal justification for that?
Batzangaa: I was told that 4 out of those 7 restrictions have some legal basis and the remaining 3 were arbitrarily created for me without any legal basis. These 3 additional restrictions are: 1) I must not have contact with foreigners or anyone in a foreign country; 2) I must not visit any government institution in person. If necessary I must ask somebody else on my behalf; 3) I must not publish anything on the Internet. The reason why I was not able tell you anything last year when you called me was because of this restriction. Now under the court “bail” these restrictions are not specifically emphasized. Therefore I am free to talk.
SMHRIC: you were an asylum seeker with the United Nations Refugee High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Has there been any contact between you and the UNHCR since your deportation from Mongolia to China?
Batzangaa: No. I have no contact with them. But my wife telephoned them once when I was under detention. They failed to take any action. I was handed over to China on October 3, 2009. It is the United Nations Refugee Agency office in Ulaanbaatar who had a secret deal with the Chinese authorities to setup a trap by calling me to the office and handed me and my family over to Chinese authorities.
SMHRIC: Can you name these UN Refugee Agency officials who have done this?
Batzangaa: They are Anaraa Nyamdorj and Erdenbulgan. Particularly Erdenbulgan was very actively involved in this matter. Anaraa showed some sympathy towards us. Most of the details and actual work was done by Erdenbulgan.
SMHRIC: You mentioned that they set a trap and handed you over to the Chinese. How did they set up the trap?
Batzangaa: Other than Anaraa and Erdenbulgan, no one else knew where I and my family were staying in Ulaanbaatar. It was these two UN employees who called me to the UN Refugee Agency office for the purpose of handing me over to the Chinese police.
SMHRIC: Your wife told us after you were deported back to China that four Chinese police went there to arrest you in cooperation with Mongolian police. Tell us more about the arrest details.
Batzangaa: Let me tell you this in some detail. Starting four days before the arrest that took place on October 3, 2009, police came to our place and knocked on our door many times. We did not open the door. The police already knew we were inside this apartment. How did they know this? It is very clear that these two UN Refugee Agency employees disclosed my location to them. We did not open our door until October 3, 2009, when I was summoned by Anaraa to come over to their office for “some clarification that needs to be made” to my case. I arrived at the office around 2:00 PM. They told me that “your asylum application has been denied because you have committed economic crimes.”
SMHRIC: Who from the office told you that your case was denied and you are a criminal?
Batzangaa: Anaraa of the United Nations Refugee Agency office told me this. Erdenbulgan was also in the office. Anaraa gave me three reasons for the denial of my asylum application: 1) you were not persecuted because you were a Permanent Committee member of the Ordos Mongolian Medical Association; 2) the Chinese authorities did not persecute you because they allocated a piece of land and earmarked some funds to your school; 3) you have some debts in China. This clearly tells us that Anaraa and Erdenbulgan of the office had very close connections with the Chinese authorities and communicated secretly with them about my case.
SMHRIC: Was that the final and official decision given to you by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee?
Batzangaa: I told Anaraa if this is the final decision then I need to go back to my apartment to discuss with my wife and daughter. Anaraa told me, “You don’t have any time to do so. You will be deported back to your mother country very soon.” I told her that I need to appeal.
SMHRIC: Did you appeal immediately at the office?
Batzangaa: Yes, I did it there. When I completed my appeal statement it was around 5:00 PM. After completing my appeal statement, I was taken out of the office and handed over to the police by Erdenbulgan.
SMHRIC: So, Erdenbulgan was the official who did the actual hand-over, right?
Batzangaa: Yes, he was. While I was writing my appeal statement, Erdenbulgan was busy on the phone with the police outside, asking them to hurry up. Anaraa showed some sympathy to me, but still cooperated with them.
SMHIRC: Did the office give you any official written decision from UNHCR stating that your asylum application was denied?
Batzangaa: No, they did not give me any such document of denial. But after my application was accepted long ago the office issued the UNHCR Asylum-seeker Certificate.
SMHRIC: What paper work had you completed to appeal the denial verbally given to you by Anaraa? Did you fill out any form for the appeal?
Batzangaa: No, there was no such form filled out. I was asked to write a statement on regular paper. I wrote it in Classical Mongolian script. I was not given any receipt or written document by them. Anaraa just orally told me about the denial. While I was writing my appeal statement, Anaraa was typing something on her computer, which I guessed she was updating my case with my appeal. Like this, I and my family members were sold to China by the Government of Mongolia and these UNHCR employees. The reason why I say we were sold is that I heard later on that the Mongolian side was given 5 million Yuan (almost 1 million US Dollars) on this deal. I am not sure how they divided up this money and who got how much. That’s why I say they sold me to China.
SMHRIC: Where did you get this information?
Batzangaa: From a reliable source I heard that the Chinese authorities brought 5 million Yuan to Mongolia for bringing me back to China.
SMHRIC: Exactly how many police were there at the United Nations Refugee Agency Office building to arrest you?
Batzangaa: Right in front of the office were four. Two of them were police and two were supposed to be the Mongolian Immigration personnel. Later many joined. I was taken to the Office of Immigration, Naturalization and Foreign Citizens of Mongolia. D. Murun, Director of the Office, told me directly, “four police officers came from China to bring you back to China because you have committed economic crimes. It is wise for you not to mention anything about your asylum application with UNHCR. If you mention this you will be punished even more harshly after you go back to China.
SMHIRC: Then were you deported on the same day?
Batzangaa: Right after this, D.Murun also told me, “police from your mother country will come in shortly. You must cooperate with them. Otherwise our Mongolian Criminal Police will come over to restrain you. You are a school principal and a well-educated person. You must think about your kid and wife.”
SMHRIC: Did they use any force physically to you and your family members?
Batzangaa: No, they did not beat me. D.Murun told me that they will start video-taping once the Chinese police walk in to the office. Then four people came in. D. Murun introduced them to me: Mr. Jirgal, Deputy Director of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region Public Security Bureau (IMAR-PSB), Mr. Bai Yina, Head of the Immigration Department of IMAR-PSB, Mr. Feng, Deputy Director of the Ordos Municipality Criminal Investigation Bureau, and Mr. Cheng Bo, Deputy Director of Dongsheng District Criminal Police Squad.
SMHRIC: Why did the Chinese authorities send such high-ranking police officials?
Batzangaa: Because I have always been accused of being involved in political issues.
SMHIRC: What political issues have you been accused of being involved in?
Batzangaa: It was mostly issues related to the ethnic problems. They have long suspected me of linking Mongolians with Tibetans because my school taught Mongolian and Tibetan medicines. As a result my campus land allocated to us in accordance with the laws and regulations for minority education was confiscated by the government, which brought substantial economic loss to my school. I requested the authorities multiple times to handle my school case in a just manner. All my requests were turned down. Under tremendous pressure and fear of being persecuted I left China for Mongolia.
SMHIRC: Were the students all Mongolian? Where did they come from?
Batzangaa: My school educated more than a thousand Mongolian students gathered from Xinjiang, Huhnuur (or Amdo by Tibetans, Qing Hai by Chinese), and many other places. Gathering large number of Mongolian students also became one of the real reasons for the accusations brought against me. In fact, I have never done anything to undermine ethnic harmony, on the contrary I tried to improve ethnic harmony by teaching Mongolian and Tibetan medicine that are closely related. All these should be understood as a personal contribution to improving ethnic minority education. I have never done anything for the purpose of toppling the Party and government authorities.
SMHRIC: Were you placed under detention immediately after the deportation?
Batzangaa: Let me add something to what I told about what had happened in D.Murun’s office. IMAR-PSB Deputy Director Jirgal asked me if I am willing to go back to China with them. I told them “if the Government of Mongolia allows me to stay temporarily here I will choose to stay here.” I avoided mentioning my application with UNHCR because I was asked to do so by D. Murun. D.Murun immediately told me, “you must go back to your mother country China, otherwise our criminal police will come in now.” All these should have been captured in the video they took.
SMHIRC: So, should it be considered deportation by force carried out by the Government of Mongolia?
Batzangaa: Yes, it should. Surrounded by so many police from both China and Mongolia, what other choice could I have had? D.Murun kept warning me that I must cooperate with the police. Then they forced me to call my wife and daughter to bring their passport with them to D.Murun’s office. That night we were held at a hotel in Ulaanbaatar. The Chinese police officers from Dongsheng District Criminal Police Squad and the Ordos Municipality Criminal Investigation Bureau guarded me in a room, and my wife and daughter were held in a separate room. More than 10 Mongolian police and security personnel guarded the hotel that night.
SMHRIC: What hotel and where?
Batzangaa: I can’t recall the name of the hotel. But I remember it was in Shin-uruu District, right next to the Enkh-Taivangiin Bridge, in Ulaanbaatar. The hotel was a relatively small one around 10-stories tall. Mongolian police and plain-clothes were everywhere in the hotel, guarding us tightly. On the next morning, D. Murun, head of Mongolian Immigration, along with several other Mongolian government officials, came to the hotel to have breakfast with the Chinese police. Many Chinese officials from the Chinese Embassy to Mongolia came to the hotel on the evening of the day we were arrested and had a drinking party with Mongolian officials.
SMHRIC: Then, were you deported back to China by airplane?
Batzangaa: Around 10:00 AM, October 4, 2009, about 30 people including Chinese Embassy officials, Mongolian officials and Mongolian police took us to the airport. There was some short delay at the airport concerning our expired visa, but everything was simplified and we easily passed customs thanks to the active cooperation of D.Murun, Erdenbulgan and other at the customs area. The Mongolian side did not go through any paperwork or official procedure regarding the deportation. I was forced to sign an English document without being given any explanation.
SMHRIC: What was that English document you signed?
Batzangaa: They did not explain anything about the document. I was forced to sign it. I have no idea what I signed for.
SMHRIC: Where did you enter the Chinese customs? Hohhot or somewhere else?
Batzangaa: The airplane landed in Beijing around 12:00 AM. Then we departed Beijing Airport around 4:00 PM, October 4, 2009. In Ordos, Dongsheng District Criminal Police Squad personnel picked us up from the airport. When they took us to the Criminal Police Squad headquarters, it was around 10:00 PM. I was interrogated by more than 10 police with three shifts in 24 hours.
SMHRIC: What were the main questions to you during the interrogation?
Batzangaa: The main questions were related to their suspicion about the ethnic minority issues and some financial issues related to my school. They suspected that I fled China with the money given to the school. Soon they found out that I did not take any such money with me when I fled China for Mongolia. They asked about my financial activities and bank accounts. Nothing was found to prove that I am a criminal. But anyway they charged me with those crimes.
SMHRIC: How long were you placed under detention?
Batzangaa: I was detained for 99 days which is 2 days more than the legally allowed maximum detention period which is 97 days. The formal arrest was dated to the 39th day of my deportation, which still exceeded by 2 days the legally permitted maximum pre-arrest detention which is supposedly 37 days. At the beginning I was charged with criminal acts of “fraud” that was later changed to criminal acts of “diverting a special fund”.
SMHRIC: How were you treated during the detention? How was the food and conditions there?
Batzangaa: Food was bad, but later on improved a bit after they failed to find any evidence that supported their accusations against me. I had to do manual labor during the detention from the early morning to late night, including sweeping the floors several times a day, washing dishes twice a day, cleaning up the detentions cells at least five times a day. At night also I had to guard other detainees from 1 hour to 1 hour 20 minutes, preventing some detainees from committing suicide etc.
SMHRIC: What types of detainees were there?
Batzangaa: Many different types of detainees, including murder suspects, and burglars and robbers and many others.
SMHRIC: What was the name of the detention center?
Batzangaa: Dongsheng District Bo Dong Liang (Bodiin Shil in Mongolian) Detention Center. My detention cell number was 19.
SMHRIC: Then you were released on bail after the 99 days detention, right?
Batzangaa: Yes, it was called the “bail pending trial” by the Public Security Bureau, or “gong an qu bao hou shen” in Chinese. Actually it also exceeded its maximum legal period which is one year.
SMHRIC: How much freedom did you have during this bail pending trial period?
Batzangaa: I was allowed free movement within the Dongsheng District upon getting approval from PSB. No doubt my phone was tapped. They installed two video cameras, one in front of my house and the other in the back of my house, to monitor my every single movement.
SMHRIC: Are the two video cameras still there now?
Batzangaa: Yes, they are still there. In fact I have been under a form of house arrest. I must obtain an approval from PSB if I wish to go anywhere.
SMHRIC: What is your plan on your pending UNHCR asylum application case?
Batzangaa: I would like to continue my appeal on the case. I tried to talk to the UN Refugee Agency Office in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, by phone. But my phone calls have never connected. All my outgoing long distance phone calls have been blocked. I am not allowed to make any international phone calls from any public phone as well. I would very much like to contact the UN Refugee Agency Office in Ulaanbaatar about my pending case if I can find somebody who can help us raise our concern to them on our behalf. I have the UNHCR Asylum-seeker Certificate, and would like to pursue this case. The reference number of my case is: 670-09C00008.
SMHRIC: We already have a copy of the document. According to the Certificate, you included your wife and your daughter also in the same asylum application, right?
Batzangaa: Yes, they were included in the application.
SMHRIC: If you wish our organization, the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center (SMHRIC), can pursue your case with UNHCR on behalf of you and your family.
Batzangaa: Yes, I am happy to authorize your organization to pursue this case on our behalf. My case is considered an economic crime here by the Chinese authorities. But it should really be treated as a case of violation of my internationally recognized rights. The Government of Mongolia should assume the most responsibility for the unjust handling of my case. I am innocent and I am being persecuted without any legal basis.
SMHRIC: UNHCR should also take necessary actions to remedy the damage.
Batzangaa: In August 2009, a female officer from the UNHCR regional office interviewed me almost three days. She should have all the details of my case.
SMHRIC: What was her name?
Batzangaa: I really can’t recall her name. But I clearly remember that she looked she was from South East Asia.
SMHRIC: Didn’t she mention which country office she is from?
Batzangaa: She said she was from the Regional Office. I was not sure where exactly the Regional Office is located.
SMHRIC: What was your exact claim for the asylum application with UNHCR?
Batzangaa: I applied for the asylum status due to the past and future possible political persecutions. I set up a school to educate ethnic Mongolians in China, but I was persecuted and had no way to continue to live in China. I tried to negotiate with the authorities including the Government, Educational Bureau and other relevant bodies to handle my school’s case in a just and acceptable manner. But all of my efforts failed, and I faced further persecution. For example, my request to the Educational Bureau for handling my case was not even given a response from the Bureau even though according to the laws concerning educational matters, this type of request should be given an official response within 3 months.
SMHRIC: When exactly did you leave China for Mongolia?
Batzangaa: I left China on May 26, 2009, one day after our school had a break. We arrived in Ulaanbaatar on the morning of May 27, 2009.
SMHRIC: Did you three have valid visas to enter Mongolia?
Batzangaa: Yes, we all three did have valid visas.
SMHRIC: According to the documents we received, in late April and early May of 2009, you sent some applications to the Chinese authorities to have public demonstrations, sit-in protests and hunger strikes in Ordos. How did they go?
Batzangaa: Yes, I sent two separate requests. The requests were turned down without any explanation and I was threatened with jail if I continued to do this. The authorities also threatened me that if I did not stop this, they may hire mafias to kill me. I told UNHCR, particularly the lady from the Regional Office, about all these details including the names of persons who threatened me.
SMHRIC: What was the Chinese authorities’ reaction to the fact that you are an asylum applicant with UNHCR?
Batzangaa: They know everything about this, but they completely ignored it. Therefore they just stick to the crime of misappropriation of funds because mentioning my asylum application they feel that the country is losing face. All of our passports, including my 9 year old daughter’s, have been confiscated. Confiscating my passport somehow can be justified given the fact that they consider me a criminal suspect, but confiscation of my wife and daughter’s passports has no legal basis. All financial and bank documents have also been confiscated by police.
SMHRIC: In the documents we received about your case, you once mentioned that some government official in Ordos told you that “the confiscation of campus land was due to the ‘precaution against ethnic minority’”. Can you explain this in detail?
Batzangaa: Yes, indeed a government official publicly stated this at a public hearing about our land dispute. In fact, I have been suspected of taking actions in relation to ethnic issues for long time. As a result, in the first five years, my school was refused by the Educational Bureau to issue our own graduation diploma, hoping that this will cause my students to automatically leave the school without bringing much trouble. After much effort, starting from 2006, the restrictions to my school had been relaxed a bit, and as any other school, my school started being treated in accordance with regulations of the Educational Bureau. We were able to get some funds as students’ financial aid and allocated a piece of land for the campus. However, since 2008, things have gone wrong again. Treatment to my school had clearly worsened. Financial aid was cut, and the land was confiscated. Then I appealed to the Government in view of this unfair and discriminatory treatment. As a result, the authorities reluctantly agreed to open a public hearing on our concern. At the hearing, Ms. Gao Lingxia, Director of Dongsheng District Legal Affairs Office, publicly told us that “confiscation of your campus land is not due to any financial reason, but due to ‘precautions against ethnic minority’”.
SMHRIC: Still need clear explanation. What does she mean by “precautions against ethnic minority”?
Batzangaa: In my understanding, it is that the authorities do not trust us and try to prevent any possible cooperation between Mongolians and Tibetans from happening. I could not believe my ears and I asked the government translators at the hearing Ms. Hasguvaa and Ms. Sumyaa to confirm the meaning of the “precautions against ethnic minorities” in Mongolian. Both translators confirmed that “yes, it means to take precautions against the ethnic minorities”. I was very angry about this statement and was able record it.
SMHRIC: Do you think this is the true reason behind all the accusations and charges against you?
Batzangaa: Yes, exactly it is. Since 2002, from the very beginning of my school, this has been the main reason for persecuting me and my school.
SMHRIC: What were your students’ reactions during your detention and de facto house arrest? Was the school still open?
Batzangaa: My school was forcibly merged with another school called “Ordos Municipality School of Hygiene”. In September 2009, there was a mass fight between my students and students of that school directly caused by the discrimination against my Mongolian students. The authorities claimed that this fight was backed by me, as Ms. Rebiyaa was accused of backing the Uyghur riots in Xinjiang. This is another direct reason for bringing me back to China. The fight took place on more than twenty occasions in a large scale, involving hundreds of students. I was considered the mastermind of these student riots. The authorities stated that I was mimicking Rebiya and instigating this.
SMHRIC: We heard of this student riot during and after which Mongolian teachers were thoroughly searched and screened when they traveled even within Dongsheng District. Was that true?
Batzangaa: Yes, that was true. Some Mongolian teachers were even forced to take off their shoes and socks when they went out of the campus, on the suspicion of carrying documents about the riot. A teacher was even brought back to his home in Ulaanhad, 1200 kilometers east to Dongsheng, and handed over to the local State Security Bureau by several police for the purpose of preventing the riots from spreading. All teachers were watched and followed closely in Dongsheng. The School of Hygiene does not have any teacher who can teach Mongol-Tibetan medicine. I later heard that the food in this school was also much more expensive than ours. When my students protested this, the school took aggressive measures to try to keep them quiet.
SMHRIC: After you were deported back to Ordos, was it easy for you to hire a lawyer to defend yourself?
Batzangaa: Immediately after my arrival in Ordos, I was assigned a government lawyer who tried to persuade me to plea guilty so that he can help me out of detention in two days. In the first 37 day legal detention period I did not accept his suggestion. On the 38th day, he asked me to accept that there has been some financial issue with my school. On the second day I was arrested formally. The lawyer who promised to take me out of there did not show up.
SMHIRC: Was his name Naras?
Batzangaa: Yes, his name is Nars. I actually personally knew him. But I was not aware that he was actually working for the government. Basically I was lured by him to admit that I have some committed some economic crimes.
SMHRIC: How did you manage to hire Mr. Huhbulag, your current lawyer?
Batzangaa: It was not easy for me to hire him. After I was released on bail from the detention, I managed to communicate with Huhbulag indirectly. The Dongsheng District Public Security Bureau immediately warned me that Huhbulag is a nationalist and activist whom I should never meet with. If I do so I will be imprisoned without any mercy. I was forced by the Dongsheng District PSB to sign a paper to guarantee that I will not hire Huhbulag. Therefore I was not able to meet with him during his first visit to Dongsheng. This happened around the end of January 2010.
SMHRIC: Then how did you finally manage to hire him?
Batzangaa: After this I did some research myself and found out that he is not a nationalist or anti-revolutionary as claimed by the authorities. In April, he visited Dongsheng once again. I still did not get the chance to meet with him. I asked my wife to meet with him. My wife met with him and confirmed that he is a licensed lawyer who has the right and capacity to represent me legally. On his third trip to Dongsheng, I managed to meet with him. I knew he is not a so-called “anti-revolutionary” because he has a valid license that would not have been issued to an “anti-revolutionary”. The PSB applied tremendous pressure against me to not hire Huhbulag as my defense lawyer. On Huhbulag’s side, he was also threatened not to defend me, and his car was vandalized.
SMHRIC: In what language were all the court proceeding carried out?
Batzangaa: I asked them to conduct all the proceedings in Mongolian. Under my and my lawyer Huhbulag’s firm assertion, the court proceedings were done in Mongolian. But the court’s official documents are mostly in Chinese. At the beginning the court tried to persuade me to use Chinese as the official language during the trial. I refused, and they had no choice but to use Mongolian.
SMHRIC: During our interview with your wife while you were detained your wife mentioned to us that you refused to speak in Chinese in the detention center.
Batzangaa: Yes, I asked them why I must speak in Chinese and everything must be in Chinese. I always talk to my wife and family members in Mongolian. But the Chinese officials in the detention center do not understand what we talk. So they tried to persuade me not to speak in Mongolian. I refused and told them to hire a Mongolia-Chinese translator if they want to know what we are talking about.
SMHRIC: Thank you for your time. The last question before we end our interview is, if any news media or human rights organization would like to interview you regarding your case over the phone, will you accept invitations to do interviews? Can we give your contact information to them?
Batzangaa: Sure, they are welcome. Now I am not afraid of anything. I am not afraid of being imprisoned. The other day, my brother suggested I should keep quiet that way the punishment I face will be lighter. I told him, “don’t worry, if they want to imprison me, go ahead and do it. I am ready anytime.” I have not committed any crime but am still been charged as a criminal. Therefore, there is no reason for me to be afraid of anything. Now, to me imprisonment means nothing. I am totally puzzled why I, a person who has dedicated everything for ethnic minority education that is completely consistent with the Party and the Government doctrine of “ethnic harmony”, must be thrown into jail? I naively thought the Party and the Government were really for the people.