|January 19, 2014|
|Seevendoo, herder's rights defender and religious figure, was sentenced to 3 years in jail (SCMP photo)|
After a six-month long detention at the Right Ujumchin Banner Detention Center, Seevendoo was released on December 4, 2013, due to failing health. The other defendant Bukhee was also discharged from detention on bail in early December, 2013.
“I just came back from Beijing where I was diagnosed with kidney failure” Seevendoo said in a phone interview with the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center (SMHRIC) on January 17, 2014, “the doctor told me that I might need a kidney transplant after Tsagaan Sar (Mongolian traditional New Year falling on February 1, 2014).”
“My kidney problem had worsened to kidney failure in the detention center due to the poor conditions and lack of proper medical treatment,” Seevendoo told SMHRIC, “I was not allowed sunlight, but confined to a humid and cold cell.”
“I am not guilty. What I did was to defend the legal rights of the herders of our community,” Seevendoo told SMHRIC. Seevendoo’s attorney Mr. Daichin, has entered a plea of not guilty.
“My client Seevendoo was sentenced to 3 years in jail with 5 years reprieve even though the major account of fraud of an alleged amount of 2.66 million yuan was dropped due to the lack of evidence,” Daichin told SMHRIC in a telephone interview. “Then Seevendoo was implicated to another defendant Mr. Bukhee who was also accused of fraud involving an amount of 30,000 yuan (approximately 4,950 USD).”
However, hesitant and cautious to disclose further details about the case, Daichin stated that “discussing the case over the phone with you might cause negative impact on Seevendoo’s case.”
Seevendoo and Bukhee were formally arrested on July 4, 2013, following a month-long detention for alleged “involvement in fraud”, and held at the Ujumchin Banner Detention Center. Family members were denied the right to visit the detainees.
According to the Beijing based environmental group “Echoing Steppe”(“ceng jing cao yuan” in Chinese), Seevendoo once served the local authorities as a “member of Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) of Shiliin-gol League and the People’s National Congress (PNC) of Right Ujumchin Banner”.
In 2008, in his capacity as member of CPPCC and PNC, Seevendoo sent out an open letter to all Gachaas (“Gachaa” is rural Mongolian administrative units, consisting of several villages) across Southern Mongolia and urged the Mongolian herders to obtain the “Collective Land Ownership Certificate” in accordance with the Chinese constitution and Land Management Act to defend their grazing lands collectively from government and corporate encroachment.
In his open letter dated January 12, 2008, Seevendoo stated that “our once beautiful grasslands have been suffering heartbreaking destruction; injustice has been widespread due to illegal land expropriation; herders have been thrown into a desperate economic situation due to that fact that they were forced to give up their traditional pastoral life.”
He rallied the Mongolian herders across Southern Mongolia to “rise up and make a collective effort to obtain the ‘Collective Land Ownership Certificates’”.
In 2009, Seevendoo was elected as the Head of Saruulbulag Gachaa, Khaan-uul Sum (a sum is equivalent to township) of Right Ujumchin Banner through direct votes by the herders.
In 2010, Seevendoo organized the local herders and established a cooperative for hay cutting and hay storage.
In 2012, Seevendoo organized more than 20 herders and established another cooperative called “Taliin Bogdo Cooperative” to collectively manage meat storing and selling without going through third parties.
Sevendoo’s activities promoting herders’ self-organization, self-empowerment and his out-spoken criticism of the Chinese authorities’ illegal land expropriation put him at high risk for harassment and ultimate retaliation from local officials and the government.
Prior to his last detention in early June of 2013, Seevendoo was also questioned and detained several times. In 2012, Seevendoo was arrested and detained for compiling, printing, and distributing “illegal publication”. Ironically, the so-called “illegal publication” was nothing but a pamphlet of Chinese laws on grassland management.
For more information on the case, the defendant Seevendoo and his attorney Daichin can be reached at the following numbers:
Mr. Seevendoo: 0086-159-4729-4499
Mr. Daichin: 0086-137-0478-8930
Related news report: http://www.smhric.org/news_496.htm