Hada answers Hindustan Times reporter Sutirtho Patranobis’s interview

June 28th, 2015

Hada answers Hindustan Times reporter Sutirtho Patranobis’s interview
http://smhric.org/news_573.htm
English translation by SMHRIC
June 27, 2015
New York

Sutirtho: Can you share with me and my readers about your experience in jail? How were you treated? Some reports say that you had been tortured. Is it true? What methods did the police apply? What were your living conditions in the first 15 years? Did the conditions improve in any way during the last four years?

Hada: The main objective [of the Chinese authorities] during the 19 years I was in prison was to force me through physical and mental torture to admit to alleged crimes. As a result, I became physically disabled suffering from multiple complications. All kinds of torture methods including use of toxic drugs were applied to break me down mentally to force me to write some statements of their choosing. On two occasions, I was placed under solidarity confinement for 99 days in total. Not only was I tortured in prison far away from my home, but also my family suffered a great deal during those 15 plus years Their objective was to isolate me from my loved ones to break me down. What is even more egregious was that following the 15 years of imprisonment, they threw me into a “black jail” and persecuted my wife and son on trumped-up charges. Could this be called improved treatment? Needless to say, it was not. Rather this should be considered a further violation of laws and rights.

Sutirtho: What do you have to say about the charges that were brought against you?

Hada: There were ethnic repressions widespread in Southern Mongolia at that time. Specific evidence of this include the steady flow of Chinese immigration to Southern Mongolia, cultivation of the grasslands for agricultural purpose, forceful assimilation of the Mongolian population, gradual deprivation of the autonomous rights of the Mongolians, mass unemployment of Mongolian students, desertification of the grasslands and increasingly disastrous sandstorms and so on. In summary, the very existence of the Mongolians as a distinct people was under threat, and the traditional culture was dying out. Under these circumstances, the government criminalized the activities of the Mongolian intellectuals who organized themselves to save the national culture. History and events testify to the fact that we were not guilty of any crimes, rather the government has committed serious crimes.

Sutirtho: What kind of routine did you have in jail? Did you have access to books and reading material? How did you spend your time?

Hada: The prison authorities had always been consistent in stating that I would be exempt from hard labor and would be treated well including access to books and television if I were to admit to the alleged crimes. They told me that the reason why they were keeping me in prison was not for putting me under reeducation through labor but was to have me admit to the crimes I allegedly committed. They even deliberately treated me better for short periods of time as an incentive. Despite these I never wavered in my beliefs. Then they attempted to break me down with unbearable hard labor. Violating their own prison law, the authorities forced me to engage in hard labor day and night, causing severe injury to my spinal discs. On cold winter days, they forced me to wake up before dawn to clean up the prison yard, causing serious injury of the nerves to my legs that were exposed to freezing cold during this period of time. During the entire period of imprisonment, I had a dozen major health problems which still exist and are unlikely to be cured.

Sutirtho: Did the authorities try to brainwash you?

Hada: During the 15 years of imprisonment, [the authorities] repeatedly attempted to force me to change my thoughts and beliefs. They told me over and over that my main goal should be to change what I think and what I believe. In Chinese prisons, there is a popular song with the lyrics of “the goal of prison is to change thoughts and beliefs”. Again during the four years of extrajudicial imprisonment in the “black jail”, they attempted to force me to give up my thoughts and beliefs, to be obedient, to cooperate with them and to be subservient to the Chinese Communist Party. They repeatedly told me that the only hope lies in following what the Communist Party says, and the United States and Europe are unable to save us. It is clear that forced brainwashing will not end so long as the dictatorial regimes do not fall apart.

Sutirtho: What about food? Did the authorities ensure that you got regular meals in jail?

Hada: Food in prison was extremely inferior in quality. This was especially the case during the 15 years of imprisonment. At some point the food quality was improved slightly. Yet, the majority of the inmates complained they were unable to eat it. Over the first two thirds of the 15 years imprisonment, I was not provided with any food and hot water. I had to buy food with the money sent from my family to survive this long period of time. This was because I refused to give up my thoughts and beliefs. This was the case even when I was completely worn out and unable to move due to extreme hard labor. I would not have survived those hardships without the support of my family. Even during the last four years of extrajudicial imprisonment, the amount and choice of food was restricted.

Sutirtho: Did your family and legal team have regular access to you? Reports that said you suffered from serious medical conditions. What kind of conditions were those? Did you have access to proper medical treatment?

Hada: During the 15 years of imprisonment, my family members were allowed only sporadic visitation rights. Serious health problems had consistently been left untreated. In extreme cases, some medical treatment was reluctantly provided if the inmates were able to pay for it despite the fact that prisoners’ medical treatment must be paid by the government in accordance with prison laws. In the last four years, prison visits by my family members were also strictly limited. In some cases, more than a year passed between family prison visits. No matter who came to visit me, they were thoroughly searched and sometimes even had to undergo a strip search. This was again an attempt to isolate me from others to break me down.

Sutirtho: Your wife, son and extended family also faced serious problems in the time you were in jail. How did they cope? Apparently, the authorities tried to bribe them. Is that true?

Hada: Over the past 19 years, my wife was arrested multiple times. The latest arrest resulted in a 3-yearjail term with 5 years reprieve which has not expired yet. Our bookstore had been shutdown numerous times. It is still closed today. My family had no choice but to make ends meet with money borrowed from others. My son was expelled from school under a false accusation, and was sentenced twice on trumped-up charges. He has been barred from being employed even for temporary jobs, making him unable to be independent. Besides these, my family and I had also overcome many other difficulties and hardships. The authorities had never stopped promising a good life in exchange for our cooperation over these 19 years. None of us accepted their offer. They are still trying.

Sutirtho: How have these 19 years in jail and detention changed you as a person? Are you now more determined to follow your ideals of protecting the unique culture and identity of your community?

Hada: In 1992, the main reason why my organization’s name was changed to “Southern Mongolian Democratic Alliance” was that we realized that democracy, freedom and human rights would be an unstoppable historical trend after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the eastern bloc countries. I wrote a number of articles about this at that time. Although I had been worried about the deteriorating situation in China and Southern Mongolia during my 19 years imprisonment, the beliefs I formed in 1992 have never been shaken. I believe the developing trend of international communities is becoming more and more favorable to us. Therefore, my determination to dedicate my entire life to the cause of the Southern Mongolians has never weakened owing to my firm belief that there must be a solution to the Southern Mongolia question. Just because of this, I am still continuing my struggle after my release from prison.

Sutirtho: You personally – and your wife and son – have experienced the might of the Chinese government. Do you think it is possible for an individual to carry this fight on?

Hada: The all three members of our family have been subjected to a series of persecutions. The persecution is still continuing. Yet, I don’t think it is impossible for an individual to fight against a government. It is common for governments to violate laws and commit crimes. This is especially true with authoritarian regimes that often times oppress not only other nationalities but also their own people. So fighting a regime is not an easy task. In other words, one must be prepared for huge losses and suffering which many people are afraid of. It is not an easy undertaking for an individual or a family to fight a regime and claim victory. Yet, not everything should be measured with success or failure. Whether one pursues justice or not, whether one takes up historic responsibilities that each of us bears also need to be taken into account. Every nation or people cannot be without some of this type of individual, as few as they may be.

Sutirtho: What are your next steps? Even after your release from jail, do you have the freedom of movement and expression?

Hada: I will continue to fight against ethnic repression and strive for genuine autonomy for the Southern Mongolians. As a first step, I will file legal complaints for the four years extrajudicial detention, false accusations and persecutions against my wife and son, the shutdown of our bookstore and the retaliation against my attorney. Then, I will file a lawsuit against the parties responsible for the unjust trial and unfair sentence of 15 years in jail. In fact, my legal complaints and lawsuits themselves are a form of struggle against ethnic repression. At the same time, I will learn how to use a computer and the Internet to have a better understanding of what is happening around the world. It is impossible for those who fight for the future and interest of their nation that is oppressed by a dictatorial regime to have real freedoms before the nation itself is completely freed.

Sutirtho: What are main issues or problems that Inner Mongolians face currently?

Hada: The most critical issue the Southern Mongolians are facing is how to achieve genuine autonomy. The main reason why there existed serious ethnic repressions in Southern Mongolia is that the Southern Mongolians have completely been deprived of their political rights and right to autonomy. It continues to deteriorate now. This is the exact reason why we had changed our organization’s name from the Southern Mongolian Cultural Enlightenment Conference to the Southern Mongolian Democratic Alliance. As you might know, since the Southern Mongolians have long become an absolute minority and de facto second class citizens on their own land, they have been deprived of their right to manage their own state affairs independently. This problem can be resolved only if all Southern Mongolians make up their minds to fight hard with all their might and energy with the strong support of justice seeking people from around the world.

Sutirtho: The situation in Inner Mongolia seems to be more peaceful than in Xinjiang (which is witnessing increasing ethnic violence) or even Tibet (nearly 130 cases of self-immolation). How is the situation in Inner Mongolia different from these two places? Are the government policies for your province different or better than in Xinjiang and Tibet?

Hada: The Southern Mongolians have already established their own political parties and fought for autonomy for 90 years. Although the struggle has failed repeatedly, the spirit and determination of the Southern Mongolians have never faded away. As the situation of Southern Mongolia is at its lowest point, Southern Mongolians have taken the path of peaceful means to achieve autonomy. However, as a result of the Chinese authorities’ heavy-handed policies, brutal repressions, and gradual deprivation of autonomy rights, Southern Mongolia have become a nation of slaves. The Tibetans and Uyghurs who have witnessed this tragedy have decided to choose their own path.

Sutirtho: Do you think that Beijing has any plan or intention to address the issues plaguing the Mongolian people?

Hada: Beijing publicly claims that there is no problem in Southern Mongolia and advertizes to the world that the situations in Southern Mongolia are fairly plausible. Therefore, what can we expect from them to resolve our issues? In fact, it is evident that Beijing firmly believes that Southern Mongolians will fight to gain their autonomy, independence or even unification with the independent country of Mongolia if they do not speed up their assimilation process. Therefore, they are trying all possible means to accelerate their assimilation. The root cause of the deteriorating ethnic problems during the past six decades is nothing but the Beijing regime itself. Thanks to the strong backing from Beijing, local officials are not only free from any liability even if they abuse the Southern Mongolians at will, but also are rewarded with wealth and promotion of rank.

Sutirtho: Could you please share something about your life and times before the ordeal of jail and detention began in the mid 1990s? How has the world changed since the time you were dispatched to jail and now?

Prior to my arrest, our family life was relatively good. During these 19 years, the economy has improved in China. Yet, the authoritarian regime remains untouched. The reason is that there has been no political reform at all while a series of economic reforms took place. Especially since the so-called “Western Development” project was launched, the Beijing regime deliberately blended ethnic problems with economic issues, solely pursuing economic growth through unscrupulous plundering of natural resources in ethnic minority regions. As a result of further deprivation of autonomous rights, ethnic problems have steadily escalated. History testifies that authoritarian regimes have no ability to resolve ethnic problems.

Hada’s video statement on lawsuit against the Chinese authorities

January 5th, 2015

Hada’s video statement on lawsuit against the Chinese authorities
http://smhric.org/news_552.htm
SMHRIC
Jan 3, 2015
New York

The following is a video statement by Mr. Hada explaining his intentions for filing a lawsuit against the Chinese authorities for placing him under extrajudicial detention for 4 years after his completion of a 15-year jail term and persecuting his wife Xinna and son Uiles on trumped-up charges (English translation by SMHRIC):

Regarding my next step to filing a legal complaint, let me discuss the following several points:

1. The main focus of my next step toward a legal complaint would include the 4-year extrajudicial detention against me after I completed my 15 years imprisonment and false accusations and groundless charges against my wife and son during this period of time in order to force me to admit to alleged crimes I committed, to give up my beliefs, to obey what the authorities say, and to cooperate with the authorities. This is an illegal scheme plotted with the direct involvements of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region Public Security Bureau State Security Department and the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region Political and Legal Affairs Committee. I intend to file a suit against them.

2. The true nature of the case of our bookstore is that the Inner Mongolia relevant authorities neither allowed Xinna to run the bookstore after falsely accusing and persecuting her, nor allowed my son to continue the business. This is clearly an illegal act. Threatening the basic survival of our family, [the authorities] have continued to further persecute us. When it came to the discussion of reopening the bookstore and the selling of books, they blew hot and cold, intentionally creating obstacles and deliberately giving us a hard time. They have used our basic means to survival as a bargaining chip to blackmail us. What is even more vicious is the persecution of my son by the authorities by depriving him of the right to work and the ability to make a living.

3. Before the release [the authorities] had repeatedly promised that I would be allowed to file a legal complaint. However, they told my wife and son that the legal complaint can only be done inside China, not filed from outside the country. At the same time, they restricted our attorney’s right to go abroad. They also carried out actions of retaliation. In addition to this, [the authorities] also restricted my right to free speech and free expression, warning me about accepting interviews by news media. They continue to threaten us with deprivation of the means to basic survival. As of today, not only have they suspended my living expenses, but also they threaten to freeze my wife’s bank account. Once again, they barred my son from going out to find manual work to make a living. After receiving some interviews, they still have not bought the necessary supplies for me. The State Security authorities talked to my brother yesterday and continued to pressure him to persuade me to give up my beliefs, listen to and cooperate with them. If I do not, the threat of more daily necessities being denied hangs over our head. Before the discharge from the prison, I had myself prepared well for the transition from the “black jail” to this “big prison” of the entire society as whole. The past 10 some days, the reality of things proves that this is indeed so. This has made me even more determined to defend the rights of the three members of our family to access the means to basic survival through legal actions.

Hada, 2014-12-19

Hada’s and Xinna’s Statement Video Statements

December 15th, 2014

Video statements by Hada and Xinna (with English subtitles and texts)
http://smhric.org/news_551.htm
The following are video statements by Mr.Hada and his wife Xinna sent to the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center (SMHRIC) recently. (English translation and subtitles by SMHRIC):

First Statement by Hada (December 10, 2014 in Mongolian):

Today, 19 years later, the trumped-up case against me has ended. During these 19 years, in an effort to force me to abandon my beliefs, I was cruelly mistreated and subjected to various forms of tortures and ploys. Yet, I have maintained my beliefs and continued my struggle to today to come to the first step of victory. However, the sacrifices and losses are immeasurable. In particular, my wife and son have been subjected to false accusations, enormous persecution and suffering. I myself have been disabled as a result of torture and brutality. Before the discharge, even though [the Chinese authorities] mentioned to me multiple times that I can file complaints and pursue lawsuits, they have made a great deal of efforts to torture me further in order to deprive me of my rights to seek redress. Particularly, they made repeated efforts to threaten me that I must not receive interviews from foreign news media; I must not contact anyone other than my relatives. What is most unacceptable is that they claimed the right to continue to treat me as a prisoner after the discharge. I unequivocally rejected all these conditions. My next step is to arrange my life and study, to continue to fight against the oppression of the Mongolian nationality, and start my complaints and lawsuit. I would like to express my deep gratitude to my fellow Mongolians around the world who have been concerned about our family.

First Statement by Hada (December 10, 2014 in Chinese):

Today, 19 years later, the trumped-up case against me has ended. During these 19 years, in an effort to force me to abandon my beliefs, I was cruelly mistreated and subjected to various forms of tortures and ploys. Yet, I have maintained my beliefs and continued my struggle to today to come to the first step of victory. However, the sacrifices and losses are immeasurable. In particular, my wife and son have been subjected to false accusations, enormous persecution and suffering. I myself have been disabled as a result of torture and brutality. Before the discharge, even though [the Chinese authorities] mentioned to me multiple times that I can file complaints and pursue lawsuits, they have made a great deal of efforts to torture me further in order to deprive me of my rights to seek redress. Particularly, they made repeated efforts to threaten me that I must not receive interviews from foreign news media; I must not contact anyone other than my relatives. What is most unacceptable is that they claimed the right to continue to treat me as a prisoner after the discharge. I unequivocally rejected all these conditions. My next step is to arrange my life and study, to continue to fight against the oppression of the Mongolian nationality, and start my complaints and lawsuit. I would like to express my deep gratitude to my fellow Mongolians around the world who have been concerned about our family.

Joint statement by Hada and Xinna (December 10, 2014):

Hada: Today, 19 years later, the trumped-up case against me has ended. During these 19 years, in an effort to force me to abandon my beliefs, I was cruelly mistreated and subjected to various forms of tortures and ploys. Yet, I have maintained my beliefs and continued my struggle to today to come to the first step of victory. However, the sacrifices and losses are immeasurable. In particular, my wife and son have been subjected to false accusations, enormous persecution and suffering. I myself have been disabled as a result of torture and brutality. Before the discharge, even though [the Chinese authorities] mentioned to me multiple times that I can file complaints and pursue lawsuits, they have made a great deal of efforts to torture me further in order to deprive me of my rights to seek redress. Particularly, they made repeated efforts to threaten me that I must not receive interviews from foreign news media; I must not contact anyone other than my relatives. What is most unacceptable is that they claimed the right to continue to treat me as a prisoner after the discharge. I unequivocally rejected all these conditions. My next step is to arrange my life and study, to continue to fight against the oppression of the Mongolian nationality, and start my complaints and lawsuit. I would like to express my deep gratitude to my fellow Mongolians around the world who have been concerned about our family.

Xinna: Today is December 10, 2014. It is the International Human Rights Day. It is also the second day of Hada’s release. Taking this opportunity, I would like to say a few words to our fellow Mongolians around the world:

1. Hada who was imprisoned for 19 years had the luck not to die in prison. Yesterday, he was finally released. It would not have been a surprise had Hada died in prison given the darkness of the Chinese Political and Legal Affairs Committee during the Zhou Yongkang era. So, the question is, are the authorities afraid of Hada as an individual. The answer is NO. In fact, they are not afraid of Hada himself. But they are afraid of international public opinion demanding justice and the overwhelming number of our fellow Mongolians who have been concerned about our family. Thanks to the long efforts by our Mongolian brothers and sisters who tirelessly appealed for the wellbeing of Hada and our family to the international community, standing in freezing winter and hot summer to cry out for our freedom and drawing the attention of the international community. Therefore, here I would like to thank all of my fellow Mongolian brothers and sisters for their tireless support of our family.

2. Although Hada has been suffering from extreme physical and mental trauma as a result of the 19 years of imprisonment, he has never given up. What is even more admirable is that he speaks loudly and fearlessly to the news media. Being imprisoned is frightening. Surrendering out of fear of imprisonment is even more frightening.

3. In fact, the tragedy Hada and our family have gone through is the tip of the iceberg of the Mongolian question as a whole. Since the start of China’s Reform and Open-up policy thirty years ago, the national minorities in China have been facing new challenges. In this new era in history, how to effectively defend the rights of our Mongolians and how to continue our resistance has been a new question. The path to national revival is on a long path of exploration. Hada’s release marks a new chapter in Mongolian history. I urge the younger generations to learn a lesson from this experience. I hope more and more young Mongolians will embark on their journey of aspiration and realize their dreams through rational and effective means.

Xinna’s statement (December 9, 2014):

Today is December 9, 2014. After 19 years of imprisonment, Hada is finally released today. The three members of our family are finally able to join together. Hada spoke just now also. He is in much better spirits today. It can be said to be fortunate that he had not died during the 19 years of ordeal in prison. What is left to us is slow recovery. Here I would like to make the following three points:

1. Hada was handed down a harsh sentence of 15 years in jail because of national problems. However, after his completion of the full prison term on December 10, 2010, he was not released, instead he was placed under extrajudicial detention for four years. I won’t go into further details of the previous 15 years unjust imprisonment for now. As far as the past four years of extrajudicial detention is concerned, our family intends to file a lawsuit to fight to the end for a just resolution.

2. Because we, mother and son, consistently appealed for Hada’s freedom, the authorities have also persecuted us as criminals. I was sentenced to 3 years in jail with 5 years reprieve on a charge of “engaging in illegal business”. My son Uiles was also subjected to a trumped-up accusation of “illegal drug possession”. Therefore, we, mother and son, will also file lawsuits in accordance with the law.

3. If China is indeed a country of the rule of law, the unjust treatment of our family must be redressed. The parties involved in the persecution of our family must be brought to justice. Finally, I hope the tragedy of our family will never be repeated in any part of China. (December 9, 2014, China).

Hada, discharged from “black jail”, but not free

December 11th, 2014

Hada, discharged from “black jail”, but not free
http://smhric.org/news_550.htm
SMHRIC
December 10, 2014
New York

hada_interview
Mr. Hada, discharged from the “black jail”, but not free (SMHRIC photo)

On December 9, 2014, the eve of the International Human Rights Day, long-imprisoned Southern (Inner) Mongolian political prisoner Mr. Hada, 59 years old, was allowed to meet with his wife Xinna, son Uiles, brother Yushan and sister Yuyue in an apartment reportedly owned by the Inner Mongolian Public Security Bureau.

Hada was transferred to this residential-like yet heavily guarded apartment on November 17, 2014 from the “black jail” in suburban Hohhot where he was placed under extrajudicial detention for four years after completing his 15 year jail term on December 10, 2010.

After many failed attempts, the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center (SMHRIC) was able to have a brief Skype video interview with Hada last night. The interview lasted only 15 seconds before the communication line was cut apparently by the Chinese authorities. All subsequent phone calls to Xinna, Uiles, Yushan and Yuyue and Skype video calls have been blocked.

During the brief video conversation, Hada told SMHRIC that he was allowed to have a medical examination and was diagnosed with more than 10 different health problems which as he stated were all caused by the inhumane treatment and conditions of the 19-year imprisonment. He also told SMHRIC that he is currently confined to the fifth floor apartment in a residential complex that has been heavily guarded around the clock by security personnel.

In sporadic written communications, Xinna stated that Hada and family members have never admitted to any “wrongdoing” or “crime” and are determined to file legal cases against those who were responsible for the unjust trial, illegal imprisonment and extrajudicial detention of Hada and his family members. Xinna also revealed that after some phone interviews with overseas news media, Hada’s brother Yushan and sister Yuyue were warned not to accept any requests for phone interviews.

In the latest text message SMHRIC received around 11:00 PM Eastern Standard Time today, Xinna confirmed that cable internet and wireless network connections have been completely cut in Hada’s residence and surrounding areas. The same State Security personnel who guarded Hada in the “black jail” are reportedly following Xinna and Uiles.

“On the International Human Rights Day today, we are still having difficulty defending our right to communication and right to receive interviews,” Xinna said in the last statement.

Southern Mongolian exiles and their supporters still staged protests in front of Chinese embassies and consulates in their respective countries today to urge the Chinese Government to free Hada and his family members. Southern Mongolian communities around the world still do not believe that Hada is truly “freed”. Rather they consider this as another form of house arrest or the so-called “residential surveillance” under which Hada has no freedom of movement or assembly, no freedom of communication and no freedom of speech and expression. Although brief and sporadic meetings with family members and relatives are allowed under tight surveillance, no true family reunion has yet taken place in their own home.

China releases one of its longest-serving political prisoners, relative says

December 10th, 2014

China releases one of its longest-serving political prisoners, relative says

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/12/09/us-china-rights-idUSKBN0JN0VG20141209

(Reuters) – China has freed one of its longest-serving political prisoners, the ethnic Mongol dissident Hada, who has spent much of the last two decades behind bars, his uncle said on Tuesday.

Beijing fears ethnic unrest in strategic border areas and keeps a tight rein on Inner Mongolia, just as it does on Tibet and Xinjiang in the far west, even though the region is supposed to have a large measure of autonomy.

“He’s not in good health,” the dissident’s uncle, Haschuluu, told Reuters, adding that Hada’s younger brother had told him of the release, which took place on Tuesday morning in the Inner Mongolian capital of Hohhot. He declined to comment further.

Many Mongols in China go by just one name.

Hada was tried behind closed doors in 1996 and jailed for 15 years for separatism, spying and supporting the Southern Mongolian Democratic Alliance, which sought greater rights for China’s ethnic Mongols. He says the charges were trumped up.

After being released in December 2010, he had to serve a separate sentence of four years of “deprivation of political rights”, mostly in an illegal detention center in the northern region of Inner Mongolia, his family says.

Hada’s wife Xinna, who lives in Hohhot, and their son, Uiles, have also been in and out of detention over the past few years. Reuters was unable to reach either of them by telephone.

Calls to the Inner Mongolia government to seek comment went unanswered.

Amnesty International considered Hada a prisoner of conscience and has expressed fears about his well-being, as have the United States and European Union.

While Hada’s release was a positive sign, he was likely to remain closely watched, as commonly happens with dissidents, said Patrick Poon, a China researcher at Amnesty International in Hong Kong.

“Although he will have more freedom of movement now he’s been released, the whole family might be subject to a certain amount of surveillance,” Poon said.

Xinna has complained about her husband’s poor treatment, and said authorities pressured him this year to divorce her in exchange for an early release.

Decades of migration by the dominant Han have left Chinese Mongols a minority in their own land. Officially, they make up less than a fifth of Inner Mongolia’s population of almost 24 million.

In 2011, the Mongol community held demonstrations demanding better protection of its rights and traditions, spurred by the death of a Mongol herder who had been protesting against pollution from a coal mine.