|December 20, 2012|
Ms. Huuchinhuu Govruud, Southern Mongolian dissident writer, won Hellman/Hammett Grant for 2012.
Ms. Huuchinhuu Govruud, also known as Gao Yulian, a Southern (Inner) Mongolian dissident writer, activist, and member of a banned organization called the Southern Mongolian Democratic Alliance (SMDA), won the prestigious Hellman/Hammett Grant for 2012, being one of 41 recipients from 19 countries. The award is bestowed to writers “in recognition of their efforts to promote free expression despite the government persecution of their work,” according to the New York-based organization Human Rights Watch.
As a popular dissident writer in Southern Mongolia, Huuchinhuu has authored several books and hundreds of essays on ethnic problems and human rights issues of the Mongolian people in China to criticize oppressive Chinese ethnic policy in Southern Mongolia. Her books include The Stone-Hearted Tree, Silent Stone, and Journey; all titles have been banned and confiscated from bookstores by the Chinese authorities.
Since the late 1990s, Huuchinhuu has been actively advocating freedom of speech, press, and association—especially through the Internet—on behalf of the Mongols in Southern Mongolia. She volunteered to help administer a number of Internet discussion forums, created by Mongolian students and intellectuals, including www.nutuge.com, www.ehoron.com, and www.mongolger.net. All three forums have been shut down by the Chinese authorities for “posting separatist content” and “discussing ethnic problems.”
In early November 2010, Huuchinhuu was arrested by the Chinese authorities for rallying the Mongols via the Internet to cheer for the scheduled release of Mr. Hada, a prominent, Southern Mongolian political prisoner and President of the Southern Mongolian Democratic Alliance. After nearly two years of enforced disappearance and extrajudicial detention, Huuchinhuu has been placed under house arrest in one of her relatives’ residencies in Southern Mongolia’s Tongliao Municipality. She is denied the right to communication including Internet, phone access and postal service; additionally, she is monitored by the authorities around the clock.
On November 28, 2012, Huuchinhuu was tried behind closed doors and pronounced guilty by the Tongliao Municipality People’s Court for “providing state secrets to a foreign organization,” according to her defense lawyer. Lacking legal basis and solid evidences, the authorities have accused her of "leaking state secrets" for circulating some publicly available information through the Internet. In order to further control and silence her, the verdict claims that “due to the minor nature of the criminal act committed” the “punishment is pending temporarily,” although the Article 111 states that the crime of “stealing, gathering, procuring or unlawfully providing state secrets or intelligence for an organ, organization or individual outside the territory of China” is punishable up to 5 years in jail to life in prison. Huuchinhuu is preparing to appeal to a higher court against the current court decision.
Huuchinhuu is the third Southern Mongolian winner of the Hellman/Hammett Grant. The two other winners, awarded in 2011, were Mr. Hada and Mr. Tumenulzei Buyanmend. The application for the grant was filed by the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center on behalf of Huuchinhuu.
[Note: In several Chinese news reports Huuchinhuu’s name mistakenly showed up as “Hu qun te gu si” (呼群特古斯). Her name should be “Hu qin fu” (胡琴夫) in Chinese.]