Statement by the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center (SMHRIC) to the United Nations Human Rights Council
Human Rights in China: The Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association
June 20, 2014
|From left: Mr.Tseten S.Chhoekyapa (Representative of H. H. The Dalai Lama), Mr.Enghebatu Togochog (Director of SMHRIC), Mr.Kai Muller (Executive Director of International Campaign for Tibet Germany), Ms.Rebiya Kadeer (President of World Uyghur Congress), and Omer Kanat (Vice President of World Uyghur Congress) (see more pictures below)|
The rights to peaceful assembly and association of the Mongolian people in China continue to be seriously violated as a result of the heavy-handed ethnic policies of the Government of China. The history of Southern Mongolia, also known as Inner Mongolia, over the past 70 years under Chinese rule has been marked by political suppression, economic exploitation, cultural eradication, and environmental destruction. The Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center (SMHRIC), a New York based human rights group dedicated to the promotion and protection of the human rights of the original native people of Southern Mongolia, would like to raise the following three issues in relation to the right to peaceful freedom of assembly and association and then provide recommended actions to address these issues.
1. The crackdown and criminalization of peaceful assembly and peaceful association by Mongolian students, intellectuals and activists.
This has taken the form of strict prohibitions against any form of peaceful assembly or organization that expresses an opinion promoting or defending the human rights of the Mongolian people. Criminal charges are routinely placed against individuals and organizations who express such opinions.
For example, peaceful organizations including the Southern Mongolian Democratic Alliance (SMDA), Ih-zuu League Cultural Society, Mongolian Students’ Reading Club, and Mongolian Yurt Association were declared “separatist organizations” or “illegal organizations” by the Chinese authorities. The leaders and members of these organizations were arrested, detained and sent to jail. Both the President, Mr.Hada, and the Vice President, Mr. Tegexi of the SMDA, were sentenced to long jail terms. Mr. Hada was sentenced to15 years in 1996 on charges of “splitting the country and engaging in espionage”. After serving his full jail term of 15 years, Mr.Hada was transferred to a “black” jail, and currently is still being held there. His wife Xinna and son Uiles are also being held under “residential surveillance”, a form of house arrest, after being held in detention for nearly 2 years. Hada and his family members are being held under extrajudicial proceedings. Ms. Huuchinhuu, a dissident writer and human rights activist, was put under extrajudicial detention for an extensive period of time before she was placed under “residential surveillance” for rallying the Mongolians through the internet to defend their basic human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Extradited activists and dissidents are routinely criminalized and sent to jail. Mr. Batzangaa who was deported back to China from the independent country of Mongolia in 2009 was sentenced to 3 years in jail with 4 years reprieve. Currently he is serving his jail term in the Inner Mongolia Jail No.4.
Two other exiles who were deported back to China from Mongolia on May 13, 2014 have gone missing. The two were active in organizing peaceful organizations and gatherings in the independent country of Mongolia to defend the rights of the Southern Mongolians.
2. The Chinese authorities’ crackdown and criminalization of peaceful protests and petitions by Mongolian herders against land grabs and environmental destructions by Chinese settlers and extractive industries.
Mongolian herders who stage peaceful protests or visit higher authorities to petition for their legal rights and grazing lands against Chinese mining corporations and state-run companies are arrested, detained and jailed by Chinese authorities. The trumped-up charges include ‘disturbing public order”, “sabotaging public properties”, “sabotaging private properties”, “sabotaging production and management”, “engaging in illegal petitioning”, and “engaging in fraud”.
In the past year alone, hundreds of Mongolian herders have been arrested, detained and charged with various criminal offenses. Five months ago, three Mongolian herders from Heshigten Banner of Ulaanhad area including Mr. Yanjun, Mr. Shirmee, and Mr. Oyuundalai were accused of “engaging in fraud”, facing up to life in prison; two herders from Shiliin-gol area including Mr. Seevendoo and Mr. Bukhee were sentenced to 3 years in jail on a charge of “fraud”; six other herders from Ongniud Banner of Ulaanhad area including Mr. Tulguur, Mr. Munkhbayar, Mr. Nasandalai, Mr. Jargalt, and Mr. Ulaanbars were sentenced to 1-2 years in jail for “sabotaging production and management”; five other herders from Urad Banner including Ms. Todoo, Ms. Urnaa, Ms. Delgertsegeg, Mr. Jargalt and Ms. Odongerel were arrested and detained for “disturbing public order” and “illegal petitioning”. One of the five herders Ms. Odongerel was sent to a year and half in “reeducation through labor” for “illegal petitioning”.
In April of this year alone, we know of at least 87 Mongolian herders from western Southern Mongolia’s Bayannuur League and eastern Southern Mongolia’s Horchin area who were beaten up, arrested and detained for demanding the Chinese authorities to stop the land grab and destruction of their grazing land by Chinese miners, settlers and military bases.
In May of this year, herders from Alshaa region took to the streets and demanded the Chinese government halt the military base expansion and immigration from the neighboring Chinese provinces, to stop the illegal land grabbing and the destruction of their homeland. Armed Chinese riot police rounded up the herders and trained their machine guns ready to fire on them if they moved any further. Many were beaten and arrested later on.
3. The Chinese authorities’ restriction of freedom of assembly of traditional and cultural gatherings and ceremonies.
Public events including Mongolian traditional ceremonies and festivals such as Naadam and Chinggis Khaan Memorial Ceremonies are closely monitored by the authorities. When approval is granted by the authorities, riot police and local Public Security personnel are placed on high alert. The event is closely monitored by the authorities. Pictures and communications we received from the Mongolian communities in Shiliin-gol League and Bayannuur League show that Naadam festivals were heavily guarded by police and security personnel. The Annual Chinggis Khaan Ceremony held in Ordos region is always under tight security. Mongolian wedding ceremonies are also required to obtain approval from the authorities.
In a recent case, Chinese soldiers lined up to march into the arena of Winter Naadam Games in Left Uzumchin Banner; In the latest such case, fully armed riot police tightly guarded the Ovoo Ceremony, one of the most sacred and ancient traditional ceremonies, and monitored closely the movements of the attendees:
1. We urge the United Nations Human Rights Council to send a fact-finding mission to China to observe and investigate the violation of the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and peaceful association in Southern Mongolia;
2. We urge the Human Rights Council to urge the Chinese Government to regulate its extractive industries, abolish its discriminatory policies against the Mongolian traditional nomadic way of life, return the confiscated grazing lands to the herders, return the displaced herders back to their lands, and recover the natural habitat where the Mongolians maintained their unique way of life for thousands of years.
The Chinese Government must review its judicial and law enforcement practices to end false accusations, trumped-up charges and fabricated evidences to prosecute Mongolians who express their opinions through peaceful assembly and organization. At the same time, the United Nations Human Rights Council should urge the Chinese authorities to respect the United Nations conventions including the Universal Human Rights Declaration, the United Nations Declaration on Rights Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which China is a signatory.
Director of SMHRIC