Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Hada, a Mongolian activist, disappeared after spending 15 years in prison. He is believed to be under house arrest, but his relatives and neighbours do not where.
Arrested on 10 December 1995, he was later convicted on “separatism charges” for leading a nonviolent campaign in favour of Mongolian independence from Chinese rule. He was released on 10 December from Chifeng prison but no one knows his current whereabouts.
Hada’s sister-in-law Naraa said she received an envelope the past weekend from a public security official containing a CD-ROM with five photos dated from 10 December purportedly showing Hada, his wife Xinna, and their son Uiles sitting down to a reunion dinner (pictured).
A week later, the authorities have not yet provided any information about him despite repeated requests by international human rights agencies and organisations.
Hada’s uncle Haschuluu told Radio Free Asia that the pictures looked recent, but he could not identify where they met.
“I inquired into Hada’s whereabouts with the prison, but prison authorities asked me not to concern myself with this,” Haschuluu said. “I believe that Hada has been released, but remains under house arrest. I heard that he was brought to the capital of Hohhot.”
According to family and neighbours, Hada’s wife and son were picked up by police in Hohhot a week before Hada’s release and taken to an unknown place. Xinna was charged with “illegally operating a business” and Uiles was accused of “being involved in drug dealing.”
The family’s Mongolian Studies Bookstore remains shut.
The New York-based Southern Mongolia Human Rights Information Center (SMHRIC) issued a statement saying that the reunion appeared real.
Beijing is accused of systematic discrimination against the indigenous population of Inner Mongolia, a region locals normally refer to as southern Mongolia, by favouring the settlement of ethnic Han Chinese in the area. In fact, the 6 million indigenous Mongolians are already outnumbered in their native land by 18 million Chinese.
Human rights groups have also harshly criticised Chinese authorities for holding dissidents and pro-democracy activists in prison or under house arrest in order to prevent protests or international censure.
The police often curtails dissidents’ freedom of movement and right to communicate after they complete their long prison sentences. In Hubei, the authorities went so far as cutting the phone lines of Du Daobin, a cyber-dissident who was released last week after three years in prison for “subversion”. They also warned him not to write more articles.