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Jan. 3, 2009

Xinna (Hada's wife) Statement on Charter 08
January 3, 2009 Statement
On December 10, 2008, I had a chance to view the "Charter 08" on the internet. December 10th is very special to me because my husband was arrested on this day. December 10, 2008 is the 13th December 10th since my husband's arrest. To me, seeing the "Charter 08" on this day is highly significant. In my view, "Charter 08" was very well written, particularly the first two parts which took a good look back through history. The reason why this charter appeared at this moment is not a coincidence. It was historically inevitable. Many compare it to the Charter 77 of Czechoslovakia and the Gongche Shangshu Movement of the late Qing. It is a call from the general public.

During the past 30 years, with economic liberalization, numerous problems have failed to find resolution in China because the CCP has refused to implement political reform. As the wife of a political prisoner in China, I am very concerned about China's political situation. If Charter 08 can be implemented in China, at least my husband's case could be handled in a just manner. Article 19 of the Charter states: Truth in Reconciliation. We should restore the reputations of all people, including their family members, who were stigmatized during the political campaigns of the past or who have been labeled as criminals because of their thoughts, speech, or faith. The state should pay reparations to these people. All political prisoners and prisoners of conscience must be released. I hope the Charter will be implemented in China as soon as possible.

However, unfortunately, the Chinese Government has arrested those who proposed this document including Liu Xiabo and and has not shown any signs of releasing all of them. Regardless of this difficult situation, reportedly more than 5,000 people signed their names to support the Charter. Mongols who visit my store also expressed their interest in signing their names even though they are not sure where to find the petition drive and how to sign their names. It is up to the rulers as to how to respond to this demand from the general public.

In Southern (Inner) Mongolia, for example, Mongols are afraid to express their opinions and demands. Their rights have been violated but they lack a channel to express their concerns about serious problems. For example, Mongolian herders from the place where I used to live are outraged by the authorities' "total ban over livestock grazing" policy which in this case is just a pretext to open up mines on the grazing lands of the herders. These herders are afraid to express their discontents and afraid to respond to the situation because of the real possibility of arrest. When I asked them to ask for help from the international community by revealing the situation to the people around the world, they said they are afraid to do so.

In China, people desperately need knowledge and education on how to protect their legal rights. Some of them know a little about their rights, but most know nothing. Even if they have some knowledge about their rights, they don't know how to exercise those rights because the Government has not informed or encouraged its citizens to protect their legal rights. Let me tell you another example, recently the Inner Mongolia Normal University removed all advertisements and public notices in the Mongolian language from campus. Chinese becomes the only language allowed in written notices and advertisements on the campus of this university where the percentage of Mongolian students is higher than that in any other university of Southern Mongolia. (Even given this fact, the total number of Mongolian students here is still much smaller than the number of Han students). Outraged by the authorities' ruling, a Mongolian student from the Department of Arts of this university asked for the explanation from the school authorities who failed to provide a reasonable explanation. For having confronted the authorities, the musical concert proposed by the student was cancelled. This is what the situation is in Southern Mongolia.

Our legal rights are arbitrarily suspended and not only have the authorities refused to listen to the legitimate demands of the people, but they have also prosecuted those who try to protect their legal rights. Thus, people are afraid to speak up. This is the situation of China. However, recently there was a Mongolian language speech competition hosted by the CCP controlled Inner Mongolia TV. Many speakers expressed their concerns on various problems the Mongols are facing including the elimination of Mongolian schools, destruction of natural environment and poverty of Mongolian herders. All these are voices and outcries from the Mongols. These voices are now heard on the CCP controlled TV, which means Mongols no longer can tolerate the situation. It is also encouraging that Mongolian journalists have felt the responsibility to publicize the plight of the Mongols. Speakers from all parts of Southern Mongolia discussed in detail the situation, for instance, how many Mongolian schools have been eliminated and how the Mongol way of life has been altered etc. This points to the fact that the most basic rights and fundamental freedoms of the Mongols are not protected in China. In this regard, Charter 08 should not only serve to promote the rights of the Han majority, but also to protect the rights of the minorities.

Mar. 7, 2009

Xinna (Hada's wife) Statement on The Plight of the Mongolian Herders of Southern Mongolia
March 7, 2009 The Plight of the Mongolian Herders of Southern Mongolia
I received a communication recently from Mongolian herders of Darhan Muu-mingan Holboot Banner (Da Mao Qi in Chinese) where I used to live (in Bayan Zureh Som), asking for help in raising the awareness of the worsening living conditions of the banner residents. I therefore take this opportunity to publicize their current situation in order to bring this to the attention of the international community. Currently, the 'livestock grazing ban' has been imposed on nearly the entire Banner. In Bayan-zureh Som, there are only around 50 Mongolian herders living on their land. What is happening now is that the government is forcing them to move off their land, paying them as little as 4.85 Yuan (approximately 0.60 USD) per Mu (0.07 hectare) land, which means they are kicked out of their land after being paid only a lump sum of 20,000 some Yuan (2500 USD) for their 8-900 Mu (60 hectare) land. Most of the herders have been relocated to a camp called "Gao Yao Hai" where every household is allocated only 3-4 Mu land. All sheep and goats must be sold. Individuals above the age of 55 are given 200 Yuan (30 USD), and individuals above the age of 75 are paid 400 (60 USD) only as a one-time compensation. This is very problematic because these are only one-time payments and thereafter the herders will be left without any care from the government. A friend of mine told me that the herders in this particular place were fortunate during the time that they lived on their own lands making a living with their few hundred sheep and goats. Now with this displacement, they are being forced to move into cities or towns where they have lost their livelihood and future. Many herders express their helplessness with their tears. According to communications from other Leagues and Banners, this situation is very widespread in every corner of Southern Mongolia. There are tons of excuses from the government, such as oil and gas projects, mining and wind power projects etc. For example, China's energy giant Shen Hua Group has occupied large tracts of herders' grazing lands after the Government forcibly displaced the local herders under the pretext of 'recovering grassland ecosystem' etc. Now, these government backed mining and power plant projects are becoming one of the major concerns of the Mongolian herders.

Let us look at what has happened in Southern Mongolia since the 1990s. On Dec 19, 2004, China's official newsagency Xin Hua News made a report entitled "China's Largest Open-up Zone Located in Inner Mongolia in Dilemma after Destroying the Grassland Ecosystem". This is about the Ulgai Open-up Zone which is located in the heart of Shiliin-gol grasslands. Being open since 1993, the total area of this zone is 5,013 square kilometers, equivalent to 10 Shanghai cities. This was reported only in 2004 after more than 10 years of "opening up" which in fact was a 10 years grassland cultivation or grassland destruction. The report said those companies who engaged in "opening up" were not able to make any profit from this, and in fact those companies were allowed to start "opening up" without obtaining any formal approval from any level of government. Now the question is where have the herders who lived in this vast pasture land gone? What is their current situation? The report did not mention a single word about the local Mongolian herders. It just lamented the fact that those companies' attempt to make profits were unsuccessful. In fact it is common sense that the Southern Mongolian grassland is not suitable for cultivation due to the thin top soil and low precipitation.

In July 2006, Inner Mongolia Daily reported that Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region Commission for Inspecting Discipline and other government bodies jointly issued a statement urging Party organs, government bodies and individuals who have occupied grasslands must unconditionally give up their occupied lands before October 31, 2006. What this report revealed is that many government bodies and individuals who have power occupied herders' lands to make money by opening up or selling to others. So, who were the victims of this? No doubt, the victims are the Mongolian herders who were kicked out of their lands.

On August 9, 2006, China Economic Times reported that "900,000 mu (60,000 hectare) grassland has mysteriously disappeared in Left Uzumchin Banner". Where has this best piece of grassland gone? The report said "in 2005, 60,000 mu (4,000 hectare) of this disappeared land was under auction at China's Investment and Property Right Exchange Fair in Tian Jin City as the Property Item No.183." What this is telling us is that Mongolian herders' lands have been plundered by those who have power and connection.

In Hulun-buir League, a similar case was reported. 700,000 mu land has been destroyed by the opening up project. Local herders have appealed to the People's Congress on the case. The government is almost hopeless, because the grassland ecosystem has been deteriorating and the herders' rights continued to be violated even though the so-called "Grassland Act" and "Environmental Protection Act" etc. have been issued a decade ago. Banners and Soms that were known for their beautiful grasslands have been turned to poverty-stricken areas. According to a communication from Shiliin-gol League, more than 80% of the Mongolian herders are suffering under extreme poverty. This is what I have seen and what I have heard about the current situation of Mongolian herders in Southern Mongolia.

In the cases mentioned above, who are the immediate victims? No question, the victims are Mongolian herders. There is no thorough investigation of herders' cases, no follow up reports on current situation and whereabouts of the herders. Those who illegally occupied and destroyed herders' grazing lands have never been punished. There is no meaningful legislation that effectively protects Mongolian herders' rights. China continually reports gas, oil or coal discoveries in Southern Mongolia. What all these mean to the local Mongolian herders is that their livelihood is gone, their life-style is abandoned and their culture is eradicated. There is no transitional or intermediate measure by the government to relocate the people in a humane manner. Everything must be changed abruptly. Corruption of local government officials has exacerbated the worsening situation. What the local officials are concerned with is to just fill their own pockets. No one cares about Mongolian herders.

Several years ago grassland degradation was one of the main concerns of the Mongolian herders. Now, grassland degradation is not an issue for the Mongolian herders because they have lost all of their grazing lands, and basically they have no land to be degraded. If the herders resist and try to remain on their lands, they are fined and subject to forcible expulsion anyway. The displacement process has always been very forceful and brutal.

We should not expect any help from the government or the state because they are backing the actions of those doing the plundering of the herders' lands and violating herders' rights. Therefore, I would like to appeal to the international community as follows:

  1. International Community must pay attention to the current situation of Mongolian herders in China's Inner Mongolia. At the same time, I hope the international community urges the Chinese Government to stop the illegal usurpation of Mongolian herders' grazing lands;
  2. I urge the United Nations relevant bodies to come to Southern Mongolia and carry out a fact-finding investigation on the current condition of Mongolian herders who are the legitimate owners of the Southern Mongolian grasslands to find out if their current situation matches what the Chinese authorities have reported to the world.
  3. I hope under the international community's intervention Mongolian herders' right to practice freely their traditional way of life will be fully restored. I appeal to the international community to urge the Chinese government to respect the human rights of all of its citizens.

Apr. 9, 2009

Summary of Uiles's visit with his father
Statement taken 4/9/09

Uiles visited his father on March 16, 2009. As usual, when he arrived at the prison, he was made to wait for nearly an hour while prison officials set up their recording equipment. The short amount of time that Uiles is allowed to visit with his father is videotaped and recorded in its entirety. Uiles mentioned that during his conversation with his father, separated by a glass window and speaking through a telephone, whenever he or his father spoke in Mongolian, the telephone connection was terminated, indicating that they could only speak in Chinese. Uiles' assessment of his father's condition is that Hada has continued to decline in health, especially his legs. Hada has severe difficulty walking. Uiles also reported that another form of punishment has been meted out against his father. For the past several years, those prisoners who had the ability to pay, a separate kitchen providing better quality food and meals separate from the prison cafeteria has been made available. Hada has been denied access to this service.

Uiles also mentioned that the sweater that Hada was wearing was the very same sweater that he has been wearing, 24 hours a day for more than 13 years, since entering the prison. Uiles observed how worn and tattered it is. Uiles has been denied the right to bring in fresh clothing for his father. No medicines have been allowed. No information has been shared with the family or Hada regarding any medical examination. Uiles mentioned that his father has been assigned 2 new prison cellmates who have been verbally abusive and monitor him around the clock. Uiles worries very much about the mental and physical condition of his father.

May 2, 2009

May 02, 2009 Xinna Statement: Information Manipulation through Intimidation

Recently, following my previous statement on the state of affairs of the herders of my home town, I was contacted by a correspondent from the Agence France-Presse (AFP). In mid-April, he visited Hohhot, and interviewed me about my husband Hada's prison situation and human rights issues of Southern Mongolia in general. I explained the situation with the herders and how their lands and animals were being plundered. I also offered to put him in touch with Mongolian herders of Darhan-Muumingan Holboot Banner (Banner is equivalent to county) who have been affected by the policies related to the "Ecological Migration" ("sheng tai yi min" in Chinese). I also introduced him to another friend of mine who agreed to serve as his driver and interpreter, someone who would personally escort him to the herders' community for him to conduct personal interviews and observe firsthand the effects on the Mongols of the Banner where I used to live.
The authorities were eavesdropping on my telephone conversation with the reporter, so they were forewarned about the visit the correspondent was planning to make. They knew the time and date when he was planning to go and who would be escorting him. So when the correspondent set off on his trip to my hometown, somewhere on the road, they were stopped by the police and asked to submit their papers for a 'routine' check. The routine check led to a 4-hour delay, during which time, the police had ample opportunity to rush to herders' place. They advised the locals that a foreign correspondent was coming and they were told under threat of severe punishment to say nothing negative about their living conditions or the situation regarding the forced migrations. So naturally, when the correspondent arrived, he heard nothing negative. In addition, the authorities also threatened the escort and intimidated him such that he too has now severed all contact with me. This is why the Chinese government's so-called policy of openness accorded to foreign journalists and correspondents is completely without merit, because they can still manipulate facts through intimidation of citizens.

August 8, 2009

August 8, 2009 Xinna Statement

On July 28, this year, I took the train to visit my husband Hada in Chifeng Prison. I arrived there on the second day, July 29.
When I got to the prison it was around 9:00 am. I had to wait. They (the prison authorities) were busy with setting up their equipments for recording and video taping. I was allowed to enter the prison around 10:40 am. Apparently, their surveillance facilities have improved a lot compared to last time. In the main lobby, within 60-70 meters range, there are a line of surveillance studios full of recording, monitoring and video taping equipments that are much more sophisticated then previously.
After a long wait, Hada slowly came out from his prison cell. He looked much thinner although his mental status appeared to be better than last time. As we started our conversation, I asked about his health condition. He is taking vitamins. His feet are still numb with pain. But I felt that his mental and spiritual status looked much better than before. He mentioned that he is hearted by the fact that his prison term will end in a little more than one year. One of the reasons his health condition had deteriorated in the past was that he always felt that the prison meals had some suspicious ingredients. He stopped eating prison meals for a while. But he has been allowed to buy snacks and food from a kitchen that is separate from the one he was given food from. I gave him 2000 yuan this time, so that he can buy some instant noodles, peanuts, and some other snacks. He said there is some buckwheat food available, and he is allowed to buy some meat and ask the kitchen to prepare it for him. This way, at least he feels safer than before. I told him not to worry about money. As long as he feels better we will try our best to provide him enough to spend on food. He is hoping that things will be better after his release.
Currently prisoner authorities do not provide him with any medical treatment, and no medicine is allowed to be brought in.
Now he is allowed to read several newspapers including "Southern Weekend" (nan fang zhou mo), Reference Daily (can kao xiao xi), and Mongolian version of "Inner Mongolia Daily" that I ordered for him.
"Southern Weekend" was occasionally confiscated.
He also praised Obama Administration's strategy toward China. It looks like that he was able to follow the story of recent negotiation between the United States and China.
Regarding Mongolian herders' issues, he said he read some articles about this. He mentioned that it is a good trend that even some ethnic Mongolian cadres are raising these issues. Even though some books I tried to bring in were not allowed, he will not be totally left uninformed as long as he has something to read.
I also mentioned to him about the recent Uyghur uprising. He said it is a reflection of ethnic problem, which I also agree with him.
I emphasized the importance of his health condition. Good health is foundation of everything.
The reason I ordered the Mongolian version of "Inner Mongolia Daily" is that he can read in his mother tongue. Hada asked me not to work too hard due to my heart problem. I told him the only thing he needs to do after his release is to write his prison experience.
This time I also mentioned to him that recently the PEN Center in Canada talked to me over the phone and expressed their concern about his health situation.
During this visit, I felt much better about Hada's improved mental condition and I had a sense of relief. Let us wait for his day of freedom, which is not too far off now.

December 31, 2009

December 31, 2009 Xinna Statement

On the morning of November 15, 2009, during Obama's visit to China, all of sudden, 17-18 personnel arrived in a vehicle from the Cultural Market Management Bureau and raided our store. They claimed that our store is selling illegally copied music CDs. They searched every corner of our store including the toilet, and confiscated nine boxes full of CDs and other items. They accused us of not only selling pirated products but also being involved in smuggling these items.
The confiscated items were Mongolian music and traditional songs. Every year they come to raid us under the pretext of "cleaning up the cultural market". We appealed to the authorities that it is not right to confiscate everything under the name of "developing Cultural Great Zone". The reason for this is that the authorities have failed produce sufficient number of Mongolian CDs and other musical products to meet the demands of more than four million Mongolian people in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. In fact there has been not a single authentic traditional Mongolian CD produced by the officially authorized producers. Four million Mongolian people need to have a way to meet their demand for Mongolian musical products. No choice, many Southern Mongolians managed to bring CDs from the independent country of Mongolia. This is a natural choice. Therefore, the authorities' so-called "piracy" is in fact an issue of ignoring and disrespecting Mongolian culture in nature.
Recently, the Chinese authorities have carried out a so-called "Mongolian Cultural Great Zone Development" Project. Mongolian music is an important part of Mongolian culture, and should be given meaningful respect. Let me give an example, Mr. Lhaajab, the "King of Mongolian Traditional Song", was not able to have a CD officially produced by the authorities before he passed away. Luckily, there have been many "illegal" producers who saved his masterpieces from being lost. The authorities' disrespect towards Mongolian culture is a long standing serious problem. But it seems they do not care. They just come to raid Mongolian stores and confiscate Mongolian cultural products. Last year they did the same. They raided almost all the Mongolian stores, confiscated Mongolian publications and issued large fines to the store owners. This time, my store and another Mongolian store right next to us seemed to be the target. They also claimed to issue a 3000 yuan (approx 450 USD) fine to me after the confiscation. After that, for some reason, they did not come to us again. We are waiting to see what the authorities' next step will be. If they continue to harass us, we all Mongolian store owners will write the higher authorities to appeal for our rights.
Many Mongolians felt it unfair that Mongolian culture is treated in this way that listening to their own native songs and music is considered "piracy and smuggling". Others argue that if there is really such a responsibility for the "piracy" then the Chinese authorities should assume the responsibility because not only did they fail to provide the necessary service but also prevented others from providing this service.
If the authorities really respect Mongolian culture and carry out a meaningful implementation of the "Mongolian Cultural Great Zone Development" by providing better service of Mongolian music, no Southern Mongolian will "pirate" anything from Mongolia. Instead Mongolia will "pirate" from us.
I think the root-cause of this "piracy" issue is the authorities' disrespect towards Mongolian culture. One more thing worth mentioning is that this time they primarily targeted our store. This is a part of their intimidation and harassment of me and my family. My store is the only store that has been raided twice. No Chinese store has ever been raided.
Another reason they raided my store is that they were searching for a book written by Mr. Bayantai. This book is about the Chinese Government's genocide against the Southern Mongolians during the Cultural Revolution. The Cultural Market personnel stated that this book has "serious political problems".


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