In December 2010, when he was released after completing a 15-year prison sentence on conviction of espionage (间谍罪) and separatism (分裂国家罪), Mongolian dissident Hada (哈达) was taken directly to secret detention and has been under custody since. His wife, Xinna (新娜), told Human Rights in China (HRIC) that Hada, 56, has been showing obvious psychiatric symptoms but is denied medical treatment. She and their son Uiles (威勒斯) were previously sentenced for "illegal business operation" (非法经营罪) and "illegal drug possession” (非法持有毒品), respectively, charges they contend were trumped up. Xinna said that she has been forbidden to work, and the family is facing extreme difficulties and is in “a living hell.”
Hada’s prison sentence is one of the longest given to a political prisoner in China. Before his arrest, he owned a bookstore in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia. For more than 20 years until his arrest in 1995, he had actively promoted his native Mongolian culture and language, as well as the political participation by the Mongolian people. In 1992, he established the Mongolian Culture Rescue Committee, later known as the Southern Mongolian Democratic Alliance (SMDA), and sought greater autonomy for Southern Mongolia. Hada was detained on December 10, 1995 and sentenced in November 1996. In addition to the prison sentence, he was subjected to four years of post-release deprivation of political rights. During his imprisonment, Hada suffered torture and mistreatment.
Xinna told HRIC that when she last visited Hada in September 2012, he looked sluggish, seemed paranoid and anxious, and was mentally closed off. She said that doctors confirmed that Hada has mental problems and needs to see a specialist. But the request was rejected by the authorities. She added that during her prior visit in July, she had noticed deteriorating conditions in the detention facility: the food had worsened, and Hada had had no access to toilet paper for one year. Xinna said that the authorities deployed more than 100 people to watch and guard Hada, who had been shuttled among different places of detention since his prison release. She and her son were allowed to live with Hada three times since December 2010, totaling fewer than 50 days. (Included below are the notes of HRIC’s conversation interview with Xinna.)
The authorities have actively blocked information regarding the Hada family from reaching the public. Right before Hada’s release in December 2010, Xinna was detained on suspicion of “illegal business operation.” Their son Uiles was also taken away by police for interrogation but was later released. But the day after Uiles told others about his mother’s situation, he was charged with “illegal possession of drugs.” He was detained for nine months, and was released after he signed a guarantee that he would not accept interviews by foreign media. The authorities did not permit Xinna to operate a bookstore, or even peddle or beg on the street. Xinna does not know when Hada, whose health is deteriorating, will be free. She said that her dream of the whole family reuniting someday—even if they have to live in a remote place and are impoverished—has been shattered. She wants the world to know the truth, and appeals to the international community for help.
During Hada’s imprisonment, the international community had paid close attention to his situation. In 2002, the United Nation’s Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment published a report documenting the torture Hada experienced while in prison. In 2006, the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the situation of human rights defenders—along with the Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and the Special Rapporteur on torture—sent an urgent appeal to the Chinese government on behalf of Hada. In 1997, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region, asking that the Chinese government reopen the trial of Hada and other arrested SMDA activists "in the presence of international observers."
Notes of HRIC Conversation with Xinna, Wife of Hada
October 17, 2012
[English translation from the Chinese by Human Rights in China]
Human Rights in China (HRIC): Hello Xinna, it’s been a long time since we talked. How is everything in your family?
Xinna: My family is doing very badly. Hada is still illegally detained and his spirits are very low. Both my son and I were detained and I was sentenced. All our other relatives are being monitored and threatened. Fifteen years ago, they took my husband alone, but 15 years later all three of us were taken in. It’s clear that the legal system is regressing. Deprivation of [one’s] political rights is not the same as deprivation of [one’s] liberty. Putting Hada in jail illegally after he served his full prison sentence cannot be justified by law.
HRIC: What is Hada’s current status?
Xinna: Hada was sentenced to 15 years because he persisted in promoting Mongolian culture. He was supposed to be released on December 10, 2010, at the end of his sentence. But that very day, he was taken straight from the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region No.4 Prison in Chifeng to a secret detention location. We only found out later that he was being detained at Jinye Ecological Park, next to Hohhot Baita International Airport. Plainclothes armed police officers surround the place he’s being held, and 60 to 70 officers from the Inner Mongolia Public Security Department’s national security brigade keep watch on him inside. In all, including cooks and other staff members, there are around 100 people there.
When we went to see him in 2010 just after his release, he was still doing well enough. But recently when we visited him, we found that his mental state is very bad. He seemed closed off, and his thinking was slow; he suspected that someone was poisoning him. The food was also very bad, and he didn’t even have toilet paper to use. After we protested, they had a prison psychiatric doctor see him and that doctor recommended that he get treatment from outside psychiatrists. But they turned this down.
One of the guards was a section chief named Yang, who had a nasty attitude. He even berated Hada in front of us. We can imagine how he treats Hada when we are not there. I believe he has been ordered to treat Hada this way. Otherwise, why would he abuse Hada since we don’t have personal issues with him? I can understand why Hada has mental problems. Over the past 15 years, not only did he serve his full sentence, he also twice witnessed his closest family members being taken away from him. And, we both—mother and son—were detained and I was sentenced. I’m worried that he is having a complete breakdown.
HRIC: Hada should be allowed to move freely after his release from prison. Why is he still in custody?
Xinna: Right. And they should also know that this is illegal. In March this year, Tao Jian (陶建), the Deputy Secretary of the Political and Legislative Affairs Committee of the IMAR [Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region], said in a press conference, “He [Hada] was released in December 2010, but he still has four years of deprivation of political rights. During this period, in accordance with legal stipulations, some of his actions are being restricted.” But deprivation of political rights is not deprivation of personal freedom. They spread rumors that I was going to lead over a 100 people to meet him when he was released from prison, so that they could confine him. That was utter nonsense. I was detained on December 3 , on the groundless charge of “illegal business operation,” and two days later, our son was also detained. There are few other families in China who have been persecuted this way.
HRIC: Did they say when they’ll release him?
Xinna: The guards said that they’re going to keep him until 2014, at the end of his four years of deprivation of political rights. But who knows when they’ll release him?
HRIC: You said that you and your son were detained and sentenced. What happened?
Xinna: After Hada was detained in 1995, I continued to make a living operating the bookshop we had opened in Hohhot. On December 3, 2010, a few days before Hada’s sentence was up, they detained me, saying that I had “engaged in illegal business.” They searched the bookshop, the warehouse, and the place where I and my son lived and confiscated a lot of things, including my notes, computers, CD-ROMs, books, but they refused to issue a list of items they took. From an Internet café, my son Uiles posted online information about my detention, and then the police took him in the Internet cafe while he was still online. He was questioned and they released him the following day. My son then sent an open appeal letter about how I had been illegally detained and my bookshop shut down to Zhou Yongkang, the Secretary of the Committee of Political and Legislative Affairs of the CPC Central Committee. As a result, on December 5, they picked him up at an Internet cafe and took him home. They said that they had found drugs at our residence. When he was taken home, there were already many police officers waiting for him with drugs. They wanted him to hold the drugs. He was smart, though, and did not touch the drugs. The “illegal possession of drugs” was a total set up. They had searched our home thoroughly only two days earlier without finding any drugs at the time. And those two days my son never left their sight, and there was a surveillance camera in our house at the time, so he wouldn’t have a chance to get any drugs. Right after he was picked up, my son demanded a fingerprint and blood analysis on the “drugs.” They refused to do that. During his detention, they didn’t ask him anything more about the drugs either. He was detained for more than nine months. On September 2, 2011, they forced my son to write a letter of guarantee. I'll read you what it says:
Letter of Guarantee to Modify Compulsory Measure
upon Obtaining a Guarantor Pending Trial
1. [I will] obey state laws, especially the provisions on obtaining a guarantor pending trial;
2. [I will] not accept interviews from non-domestic journalists or media and [will] not discuss illegal matters with others;
3. [I will] not participate in any social activities which endanger the country;
4. [I will] not participate in gatherings, demonstrations, or protests, or cause any trouble.
September 2, 2011
On September 14, 2011, they issued a decision to not prosecute Uiles. It still implies that he was guilty, saying that his “criminal acts were minor” so they “would not prosecute.” On September 17, [2011,] he was released upon obtaining a guarantor pending trial for one year. Everyone knows that you can't obtain a guarantor pending trial in narcotics cases. The letter of guarantee had nothing to do with drugs. My son was detained because he was interviewed by the Associated Press, the BBC, and other overseas media after I was detained. It was only on September 14, 2012, a few days ago, that my son and I received the decision to cancel the guarantorship.
After I was put in detention, people from the IMAR Public Security Department to the Hohhot Municipal Public Security Bureau advised me multiple times not to take interviews from overseas media, but I did not agree to this. As a result, on April 20 of this year , when I was tried, they gave false testimony that they had found over 5,000 Mongolian-language CD-ROMs in the search of my bookshop. But during their search [of the bookshop], they only took great quantities of my reading notes and very few CD-ROMs. At that time, I demanded that they issue a list of items confiscated, but they would not. How could they come up with 5,000 CD-ROMs? They said that I sold pirated Mongolian-language CD-ROMs which seriously endangered the market. One must know that legal Mongolian-language CD-ROMs are very scarce. In order to promote and preserve Mongolian culture, the majority of [Mongolian-language] CD-ROMs sold in bookshops are pirated. Other people can sell them, but I cannot. I was only promoting Mongolian language and culture. I was sentenced and released on April 24. My crime was: engaging in “illegal business operation,” and I was sentenced to three years with a five-year suspension.
HRIC: How have you been since your release?
Xinna: We still don’t have any freedom after our release. They put up quite a few surveillance cameras on our windows and door. We have to get permission to go anywhere. Both of our ID cards were confiscated and have not yet been returned. Without our IDs, we cannot get jobs. My son and I can only rely on assistance from our family to live. I requested to re-open the bookshop, but they would not allow it. I asked them to let my son run the bookshop, but they would not allow that either. I asked them to let me beg on the street or set up a street stand, but they would not allow that either. After many rounds of negotiations, they said that beginning September 17 this year, they could give me and my son 2,000 yuan as a living subsidy each month, but we cannot accept interviews from overseas media. Recently they told me that since I had accepted interviews, they would deduct our subsidy this month. We want to be self-reliant and not rely on their charity. Probably because I did some interviews a couple of days ago, these two days they started posting people outside our door [building gate]. Our Internet has been cut, and yesterday our phone didn’t work. I do not know why you were able to get through to me today.
This year during Mid-autumn Festival [September 30], I went to Baotou in secret, having made myself up [in disguise], to see my 84-year-old mother—she was born in 1928. Because I did not have an ID card, I had to spend150 yuan on a ticket that would normally cost some 10 yuan. I only looked after my mother while I was in Baotou; her health and eyesight are not good. But I was closely monitored by the Baotou police during the ten-or-so days that I was at my mother's home. And Uiles, who had stayed in Hohhot, was threatened daily. After I returned to Hohhot, they said that my trip to Baotou to see my mother was illegal.
Not only that, they do not even spare my close family. My younger sister and mother in Baotou have been repeatedly threatened and have had their phone and Internet cut off. Domestic Security personnel in Baotou have even used my sister’s child to threaten her. And now, thanks to their threats, my sister got sick. My mother is berated every time after she gives an interview.
Our whole family has been persecuted to such a degree that we would rather die standing than live on our knees. I really can’t bear it. A couple of days ago, I had asked a BBC reporter to appeal for Hada’s release. But people from the IMAR Public Security Department and Public Security Bureau even flew to Beijing to see my brother, who is a lawyer there. They told him that his sister [I] again gave interviews, and that if she [I] continued to give interviews, they would pick her [me] up again. My brother could only say that if they had to take her [me] in for giving interviews, then they should go ahead.
HRIC: How many times did you meet with Hada after he was “released” from prison?
Xinna: We met four or five times. And every visit we were humiliated with a strip search, and every page of the old newspapers we'd brought were turned over page by page. Even my 84-year-old mother had to go through this.
The first time was December 10, 2010. We were taken—I from IMAR No. 3 Detention Center, where I was being held, and my son from IMAR No. 1 Detention Center—to where Hada was being held. After fifteen years of being apart, our family of three was reunited for some ten days. At that time, Hada was doing okay mentally; the material conditions were also not bad; the food was quite good, and Hada had a television and three newspapers to read. But because we went on hunger strike to protest Hada’s illegal detention, we were taken back to the detention centers on December 29.
The second time was in the Spring Festival in 2011. My son and I were taken from the detention centers to where Hada was being held on the last day of the [lunar] year, and they brought my mother and sister from Baotou. We held a small family reunion together with Hada in a Spring Festival—the first in 15 years. Four days later, my son and I were returned to our respective detention centers.
The third time was in June of this year. My son and I were taken to a hot spring in Chifeng where we stayed with Hada for some 20 days.
The fourth time was in July, when I was taken to see Hada in Jinye Ecological Park where he was being held. That time, we found that the food was awful, and there was no television and only one newspaper. And they did not give it to him often. What astonished us was that there wasn’t even toilet paper in the bathroom. According to Hada, it had been like this for more than a year. I asked him how he dealt with it. He said that he could only use water to wash up. I was furious at the time and went to his guards. They said that they didn’t have enough funds. But they—so many of them—they had good booze and good cigarettes and good food. And they didn’t have enough to get Hada toilet paper?
The fifth time was when I saw him again in September . The last two times that I saw Hada, his spirits were very low. He was closed off and slow to think. He suspects he is being poisoned.
HRIC: Aside from your immediate family, can anyone else see Hada?
Xinna: Other people can’t see Hada at all. In October 2011, Hada's younger brother took a long trip from the Northeast to Hohhot in an attempt to see the brother he had not seen in so many years. But his many applications to see Hada were rejected. Having no alternatives, he had my son Uiles accompany him to take a look at where Hada was being held. In the end, they did not see him. But the two of them were held for three days in the reception area at the entrance to the detention place.
HRIC: Right now, what do you wish most?
Xinna: I hope that Hada can come home. I hope they will abide by the law. On December 31, 2010, I wrote a letter to Hu Chunhua (胡春华), the leader of the autonomous region, to ask him, as a young politician, to respect the law and to carefully handle ethnic minority issues. In the end, his “handling” resulted in our family being locked up and I was sentenced. I know that many people think highly of Hu Chunhua; I even read a Hong Kong magazine that spoke highly of him. I know that China’s politicians have acted unreasonably when it comes to ethnic minority issues, including Tibet and Xinjiang. Hu Chunhua, the current head of the IMAR Public Security Department, and the current Secretary of the IMAR Committee of Political and Legislative Affairs of the CPC are all new to their positions. I hope that they can keep pace with the times and re-examine Hada’s case. My husband was taken in 15 years ago, and then 15 years later our entire family was locked up. This is a serious step backward; even worse than the Cultural Revolution. My son is depressed, and I’m worried that Hada will have a complete mental breakdown. My health isn't good, I have very bad heart spasms. I want to see him released while I am still alive.
I recently wrote a letter to one of leaders in the IMAR Committee of Political and Legislative Affairs of the CPC. I’ll read it to you.
Hello, Dear Director Bao of the IMAR Committee of Political and Legislative Affairs of the CPC,
I remember that this spring, when you came to speak with me at the detention center, you told me that Hada would be released. But to date, he is still being held at Jinye Ecological Park.
You also know well that the detention of Hada is in violation of the law. The excuse of so-called deprivation of political rights is fundamentally indefensible, and I do not know who would have thought of this kind of evil trick and to continue to persecute Hada? I curse him and hope he goes to hell.
I want to tell you today that Hada’s mental state is deteriorating. This is caused in part by his long imprisonment, but also by all the specific abuses and discrimination he has suffered from the guards.
In consideration of his circumstances, I would like to make the following requests to you:
1. Release Hada as soon as possible, so that he may avoid a total mental breakdown.
I request that from this point on, the people involved in persecuting Hada be disciplined. I firmly ask that Section Chief Yang be dismissed, and that relevant regulations are drafted to strengthen the supervision [of the guards]. If not, after Yang, there's also Ma or Niu who would also run amuck and abuse their power.
2. As a temporary relief, send Hada to the countryside or grazing land areas where he can be looked after by our family.
Right now, only family love can alleviate Hada’s immense suffering. We, bereft wife and son, have been implicated by Hada’s case and branded criminals by the Inner Mongolian authorities. Will we mind being implicated again and exiled to a remote and desolate place? For Hada’s sake, we are willing!!! In fact, our life is not good anyway. Even eating poor food in the countryside is much better than being here, in the city, where our family is split into two, marginalized, and forced to live in humiliation. Maybe going far from this place—where there will be no clamor and where the air is fresh—and returning to nature can really heal the trauma in Hada’s and our family’s hearts and souls.
3. Immediately stop the persecution of Hada and our family, otherwise I will take extreme measures in a struggle to the death.
Once I held a fanciful view of reality, but now I have been thoroughly disillusioned by your perverse acts. Fifteen years ago, it was only Hada who was detained, but 15 years later, our entire family was detained and I was sentenced. Your politics has put the chills in autumn and your achievements have made us fall into the abyss. Instead of letting you slowly torture us to wish to die rather than live, we have to rise up and resist, and fight with all the strength we can muster.
What is the 18th Party Congress or the 19th Party Congress? They may hold some prospects for those who scramble for power and profits, but they mean nothing for our family. I only wish to die standing, not live on my knees.
who has suffered all kinds of humiliation
September 26, 2012
HRIC: The authorities are afraid that you’ll tell the outside world what’s really happening. Are you not worried that you’ll be subjected to further suppression for giving us this information today?
Xinna: I know that many dissidents have been released from prison ahead of schedule. Hada not only did not receive a day of sentence reduction, but he has been detained after he served his full sentence. Why don’t they let me accept interviews? It’s because they fear that the international community will know about these despicable tricks. I very much wish that the international community will pay attention to our situation. I can only use international public opinion. They are afraid of it. I hope that the international community can intensify its condemnation of China. I have nothing to fear—if they’re going to detain me again, so be it. This is the only way that I can make a stand. They know that I am not afraid, so they use my brother, my sister, my son—they’ve already gone to the extreme. There is nothing that I fear. They’ll stop at nothing. Yesterday, they even flew to Beijing to threaten my brother.
HRIC: What kind of help do you hope that the international community can give your family?
Xinna: I truly thank you all and the international community for all the concern and attention that you have given my family over these many years. I urge the international community to continue to follow my family's situation and invite the international community to urge the Chinese government to immediately stop its brutal persecution of my family and release Hada, who has been illegally held since his release from prison on December 10, 2010, after serving his sentence, and allow me and my son the space to support ourselves. I hope that the entire world will pay attention to my family's situation. If I don’t speak out as a family member, who can help us? I hope that everyone will pay attention to Hada's case and to my family's situation. What our family has endured is human rights in China in a nutshell.
HRIC: What kind of help can ordinary people give your family?
Xinna: I hope that some lawyers can help us fight to get Hada to come home soon. I also hope that a large number of netizens can call the following police officers who are responsible for my family and urge them to release Hada soon and improve my family’s living environment. They are:
Tong Bailong (佟白龙), head of the Qiaobao police substation under the Saihan branch office of Hohhot Public Security Bureau. His number is 131 9140 3040. The political leader Zhang Jianguo (张建国), whose number is 133 3710 0630.
And Section Chief Lin Zhiwei (林志伟) of the IMAR Public Security Department, whose number is 158 4939 9502.