|March 19, 2014|
Xinna and Uiles under "residential
surveillance", a form of house arrest, in their residency. (SMHRIC
photo, March 2014)
Xinna under a surveillance camera in front of
her apartment. (SMHRIC photo, March 2014)
The suburban Hohhot's blue-roof two-storey
building is the "black jail" or secret prison where Hada is held. (SMHRIC
photo, March 2014)
The following is the English translation of the phone interview (Part 1):
SMHRIC: How are you? It has been a really long time since we last spoke.
Xinna: How are you? Indeed, it has been quite a while since we talked over the phone. We have rarely been allowed to talk to others. Most of the time our phones have been disabled by the Public Security authorities.
SMHRIC: How have you been lately? How is the situation there?
Xinna: After the Tsagaan Sar (Mongolian traditional new year, Feb 1, 2014), the Public Security personnel came to talk to us. As usual they are still not giving up hope to have us compromise with them. This time they came up with an idea, proposing to “help” us buy a large house, asking us to pay a portion as a smaller share for the property by auctioning our books and other souvenirs from the closed bookstore. We told them what we want is not a house. We want our freedom, freedom to live as a free person, freedom to run our bookstore. We have the ability to make a living without any so-called “help” from the government if we are given our freedom. I was accused of “engaging in illegal business” and sentenced to 3 years in jail for the same trumped-up charge. This means I am permanently barred from running the bookstore. Uiles is denied the right to employment also. He as a young man needs to survive running the bookstore since he has nothing to do with the accusation of “illegal business”.
SMHRIC: What is their intention for not allowing you to re-open the bookstore?
Xinna: One, they are still afraid of the popularity of our bookstore which will attract Mongolian students and intellectuals. When Hada and others were arrested back in 1995, our bookstore was considered the “black gathering spot” of young Mongolian college students and intellectuals. Two, this is part of the Public Security authorities’ larger strategy of “carrot and stick”. They told us many times that the government will give us a great deal of benefits if we give up our thoughts and cooperate with them. At the same time, they threaten to punish us harsher if we do otherwise. We are not supposed to receive phone calls and answer foreign news media interviews. For example, after our refusal to accept their offer, I received a text message on February 26, 2014 undoubtedly from the Public Security Bureau. Let me read the text message for you:
Turn on your cell phone and be on standby. To leave Hohhot you must obtain an approval. Report your status to us via text message once a week. You will be given a warning if you do not follow the abovementioned instruction. You will be jailed after three warnings.
The sender was shown as “Automobile Operated Surveillance System”. It suggests that there is a possibility that I will be taken away and thrown into jail again. Therefore, I have been preparing for it, and now, I am ready to go to jail. As you know I was sentenced to 3 years in jail with 5 years reprieve, which means the Public Security authorities will throw me into jail as many times as they want during these years. I had already served 16 months earlier. So I have another 20 months left to serve to complete the 3 years sentence I was given.
SMHRIC: Has there been any further summons from the Public Security Bureau since then?
Xinna: No, because they know that I will not follow their instruction. This is already the third week since the text message warning. I have not sent any text message back to them to report my status, which means I have already been warned twice. They are waiting for the third warning which will be due this week. So, I will likely be taken away to jail this week.
SMHRIC: So, how is Hada’s attitude toward the authorities’ recent offer of a large house?
Xinna: Hada is not accepting their offer either. The Public Security Bureau is trying hard to have him cooperate with them. They told him that he will be given a 130 square meter large house if he cooperates with the authorities and admits to the “crimes” he committed. The message the government is trying to convey to all Southern Mongolians is very clear: if you listen to them and give up your aspirations you will have everything. Otherwise, you will be sent to long term jail, your family will be destroyed, and you will not even be left with any means of basic survival.
SMHRIC: How is Hada’s recent situation? How is his health?
Xinna: His situation has not improved at all. He has been completely isolated from the outside world for nearly 19 years. He is in poor health and suffering from serious depression. What he has experienced has already reached the upper limit of what a man can endure. Not only is Hada himself a victim of the Chinese authorities’ lawlessness, but also myself and my son as his family members have been persecuted for 19 years without any legal justification. Imprisoning Hada for 4 years after the completion of his 15 years jail term is an illegal and extrajudicial detention; groundless accusations and trumped-up charges of “drug possession” against my son Uiles is a retaliation from the authorities for having revealed Hada’s situation and my arrest to the international community and writing a letter to the Chinese Central Government in protest; the so-called “engaging in illegal business” or “illegally selling Mongolian music CDs and DVDs” so on and so forth is nothing but a retaliation against our family’s refusal to cooperate with the authorities. China is a lawless country where the law enforcement authorities themselves violate the laws. No law works in the land. Everything is done through private deals.
SMHRIC: You have mentioned that you were preparing for possible imprisonment. What preparations have you made for this?
Xinna: I am happy that this time we were able to talk over the phone. I would like this opportunity to make a statement before my impending imprisonment, and I hope you make this known widely:
1. I will never give up my pursuit and aspiration for freedom, until China becomes a country of the rule of law and resolves my family’s case in a just manner and the Mongolians’ dignity and rights are respected;
2. I will never commit suicide inside the prison system. If anything of such kind happens to me in the prison, then that will be done by the Chinese authorities.
If you look at the case of Uyghur dissident Ilham Tohti, the nature of the case is exactly the same with the case of Hada. An outspoken dissident who criticized the Chinese authorities’ ethnic policy was subjected to harsh punishment and even accusation of terrorism. In our case, Hada is accused of “national separatism”, and the whole family considered criminal.
SMHRIC: Were you able to visit Hada recently? If so when?
Xinna: No, I was not allowed to visit him. Uiles was allowed to see him once on February 15, 2014.
SMHRIC: Is Hada still determined to sue the authorities for mistreatment of himself and his family?
Xinna: Yes, he is still determined to sue the Inner Mongolia Public Security Bureau and other relevant authorities. He is preparing to write the appeal paper. In fact, he had written this long time ago. My brother as a lawyer is trying to help him prepare the materials.
SMHRIC: Is your brother allowed to see Hada?
Xinna: He was allowed to see Hada once last month. Even if the last four years of imprisonment of Hada is understood as the so-called “deprivation of political rights”, it should end on December 10 of this year. Hada should be freed this December. What the authorities do not want to see is that we have a family reunion and live as a normal family. So, it might be the case that they throw me in jail while Hada is freed.
SMHRIC: How is Hada treated in the prison now?
Xinna: He is held in a single room by himself without any contact with the outside world. He feels very lonely. A disturbing development is that taking advantage of Hada’s loneliness and depression the prison authorities are providing Hada with a large quantity of alcohol in an attempt to destroy his already weakened health and mind. We protested many times against the prison authorities about this type of illegal and vicious move. Hada had never had any problem of alcoholism before he was sent to jail. In fact Hada did not drink when we had a brief reunion in the secret prison in December 2010. Hada seems to be given alcohol after we were arrested in front of him and taken to separate detention centers almost 4 years ago.
SMHRIC: What would you like to say to the international community about yourself and your family?
Xinna: 19 years have passed. Our entire family has gone through an unimaginably harsh life. The suffering still continues. But, we felt it is worthwhile, because all these are not for any personal benefits for our family. They are for the cause of our entire Southern Mongolians as a people. The Chinese authorities tried to weaken our heart and mind through cruel torture, harsh punishment, inhumane treatment, and now with promises of luxury house, good benefits and easy life. Our heart and mind are not weakened by these, but rather strengthened. I might be thrown into jail for speaking over the phone and telling these things to the world. Again, I am not afraid to go to jail. Whenever there is a chance I would be happy to receive any interview from the news media to tell our story.