August 5, 2002
Written Statement from Christine Shea
Coordinator of Amnesty International Group 284
Amnesty International Group 284 has been working on the case
of an Inner Mongolian citizen named Tegexi since 1997. Tegexi
is 36 years old and has a wife and son. Prior to his arrest,
he was employed at the Inner Mongolian Bureau of Foreign Affairs.
He has a Master's Degree in Mongolian.
Tegexi was arrested on December 12, 1995. His arrest came
as a result of his involvement with an organization called
the Southern Mongolian Democratic Alliance. The group's aims
were to promote human rights, Mongolian culture, and a high
degree of autonomy for China's minority nationalities. This
autonomy is guaranteed in the constitution of the People's
Republic of China.
According to reports, an internal document circulated by
the Chinese Communist Party identified Tegexi and other alleged
members of the SMDA as "nationalist separatists"
and called the SMDA a "counter-revolutionary organization
that is carrying out activities aimed at splitting the nation."
A number of others were arrested at about the same time as
Tegexi, and protest demonstrations were held at the Mongolian
Language College following these arrests. Eventually, all
of those detained were released, with the exception of Tegexi
and Hada, who was the proprietor of a local bookstore.
On March 9, 1996, Tegexi and Hada were formally arrested
and charged with "conspiring to overthrow the government"
and "espionage." They were brought to trial and
sentenced on December 9, 1996. Tegexi was sentenced to ten
years in prison and Hada to fifteen years imprisonment.
Amnesty International considers Tegexi to be a prisoner of
conscience, detained solely because of the peaceful exercise
of his right to freedom of expression and association. He
has not used or advocated violence. Following Tegexi's arrest
and sentencing, Amnesty International researchers investigated
his case. Once they had determined that he was a victim of
human rights abuses and that he had not used or advocated
violence, local groups were asked to "adopt" his
case. Group 284 agreed to work on Tegexi's behalf. Local groups
in the Netherlands, Germany, and Portugal have also adopted
As an Amnesty International group, our concern is not based
on Tegexi's beliefs or political affiliation. We believe that
Tegexi, like everyone else, has the right to peacefully express
his beliefs and to associate with others who share his beliefs.
The primary tool that we use in advocating for Tegexi is the
personal letter. Our group has written hundreds of letters
to various government officials since 1997. Each letter states
that Tegexi is imprisoned for the peaceful exercise of his
basic human rights and asks that he be released from prison
immediately and unconditionally. Although each letter is unique,
these two core ideas are always included.
Our work on Tegexi's behalf has several facets. During our
monthly meeting, each member of the group writes at least
one letter on Tegexi's behalf. A typical meeting may be attended
by between five and ten people. The group's quarterly newsletter
also includes information on Tegexi's situation and readers
are asked to write a letter. The mailing list includes approximately
100 people. Finally, the group occasionally sponsors special
events, such as an annual Write-a-Thon. Tegexi's case is included
in letter writing actions during these events also.
The case coordinator is the one who decides how letter writing
will be targeted. Amnesty International provides case coordinators
with a support network of country experts. In addition, e-mail
information and occasional updates from the London office
help the coordinator to develop a strategy for each case.
In our work on Tegexi's case, we have written to both local
and national Chinese government officials. We have also written
to our elected representatives and officials at the United
States Department of State.
Letter writing to Chinese government officials is coordinated,
so that one or two officials are targeted each month. On the
national level, we have written to President Jiang Zemin on
several occasions. We have also written to other national
officials such as the Vice President, the Premier, the Minister
of Foreign Affairs, and the Minister of Justice. If possible,
copies of letters are sent to the Chinese Ambassador in Washington,
D.C. and we have written directly to the Ambassador.
On the local level we have sent letters to the Chairwoman
of the Government of the Inner Mongolian Region, the Secretary
of the Party Committee in Inner Mongolia, and the Chief Procurator
of the Inner Mongolian Region. In addition, we've written
to prison officials, such as the Director of the Regional
Bureau of the Reform-Through-Labor Administration, and the
directors of the prisons where Tegexi has been detained.
Unfortunately, we have never received a reply to any of our
letters to Chinese officials. However, prisoners who have
been released from Chinese prisons have reported that letters
to officials did seem to have an impact. One former prisoner,
Wei Jingsheng, said that he believed that the letters sent
by Amnesty International groups affected his treatment in
prison. He also said that although he never saw these letters,
he did learn of their existence and that "the mental
inspiration this gave me greatly surpassed any small improvement
in my living conditions."
Another facet of our work on Tegexi's behalf has involved
requests for assistance from United States government officials
and elected representatives. Our group sent letters and e-mails
to Presidents Clinton and Bush concerning Tegexi. These letters
preceded presidential visits to China. We also wrote to Secretary
of State Albright before she traveled to China. In each of
these letters, we requested that Tegexi's case be brought
up during discussions with Chinese officials.
We have received replies from the White House and from the
State Department. In February 2001, Christopher Sibilla, from
State Department Office of Bilateral Affairs, wrote that they
"have been following closely the case of Tegexi,"
and that the State Department "views this case as a source
of continuing concern." However, we do not know if President
Clinton, President Bush, or Secretary Albright discussed Tegexi's
case with Chinese officials.
Group 284 also wrote to our elected representatives asking
them to adopt Tegexi and write letters on his behalf. We have
written to Senators Paul Sarbanes and Barbara Mikulski, and
Representatives Wayne Gilchrest and Steny Hoyer. We received
replies from the offices of the elected officials, and although
they were sympathetic to Tegexi's case, none were willing
to write letters on his behalf. Senator Sarbanes forwarded
our letter to the State Department, as did Senator Mikulski.
Senator Mikulski also sent a copy of our letter to the Chinese
During the past year, we have sent occasional letters and
cards to Tegexi in prison. We have never received a reply
and we do not know if he receives the letters. We send simple
messages of hope and support. Our hope is that, even if the
letters are not delivered to Tegexi, they will let prison
officials know that he has not been forgotten.
This message, that Tegexi has not been forgotten, is the
essence of our work. Despite the unresponsiveness of Chinese
officials, Group 284 has continued to write to them consistently
for the past five years. We hope that our work will help Tegexi
to be released, but we also hope that the consistent pressure
will prevent others from suffering as Tegexi has suffered.