01/02/2007, 00.00
CHINA
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Mongolian dissident’s wife begs world not to forget him

He has been detained since 1996 for supporting the rights of the ethnic people of Inner Mongolia. His wife, who is allowed to see him just twice a year, fears for his health. He is kept in solitary confinement all the time and cannot receive food or books from home.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The wife of a jailed Mongolian dissident, Hada, yesterday said his health had “seriously deteriorated” since he was imprisoned in 1996. She urged the world not to forget him and to pressure Beijing to set him free.

 

Hada was arrested in 1996 in northern Inner Mongolia and sentenced to 15 years in jail for “separatism and spying” and for supporting the Southern Mongolian Democratic Alliance that protects the rights of China’s ethnic Mongolians.

 

His wife, Xinna, told a foreign news agency: “He is not being treated well. He is ill and had aged and weakened visibly the last time I saw him. He is not even allowed to receive the food, books or newspapers I send him… He doesn’t even have the right to read”. Hada cannot even receive telephone calls; he is kept in solitary confinement and is not allowed to communicate with other ethnic Mongolian detainees in Chifeng prison in Inner Mongolia, which is hundreds of km east of Hohhot where he used to live with Xinna, running a Mongolian book shop. His wife is allowed to visit him only twice a year.

 

Amnesty International considers Hada a prisoner of conscience and has expressed “fear” about his health and that he has been tortured.

 

On paper, Inner Mongolia is granted considerable autonomy but in reality, Beijing exercises rigid control there, not least because of fears of ethnic protest. 

 

China continues to lock up people from ethnic minorities as it has done for decades. People are still dying in jail,” Xinna said. “I have written so many letters to President Hu Jintao and I have never received a response. We need the support of the media and human rights groups” to make sure this case is not forgotten. Xinna herself was arrested twice but never formally charged. The police “frequently” carry out checks in her store. The last time was in November when police raided the shop and confiscated books on the pretext that they were searching for pirated copies.

“It’s been better in the last two years, since the foreign press started paying attention to this case. But they watch me all the time,” she added, pointing to an unmarked car with blacked-out windows parked across the street.

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