Tue, Dec 16, 2014 - Page 5 News List

Mongol dissident held in ‘black jail’ claims torture

STILL NOT FREE:Mongol activist Hada says that despite his release from the penal system that cruelly abused him, he remains a prisoner, subject to gag orders and threats

Reuters, BEIJING

A dissident who had been one of China’s longest-serving political prisoners until his release last week was tortured while in detention and has been threatened since he was let out, he said in a video statement released on yesterday.

Ethnic Mongol activist Hada has spent much of the past two decades behind bars, including the last four years in an extra-judicial “black jail,” until he was freed on Tuesday last week.

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

“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,” Hada said in a Mongol-language video statement, released by the New York-based Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center.

“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,” Hada said, according to a translation of the statement provided by the group.

Calls to the Inner Mongolia government seeking comment went unanswered. The use of torture is banned in China, but rights groups claim that its practice remains widespread.

Hada’s wife, Xinna, and their son, Uiles, have been in and out of detention over the past few years. They have not been reachable by telephone.

Hada, who like many Mongols in China goes by just one name, was tried in 1996 and jailed for 15 years for separatism, spying and supporting the Southern Mongolian Democratic Alliance, which sought greater rights.

Hada called the charges against him “trumped up,” adding that he was still effectively being treated as a prisoner, as he has been banned from talking to the media or anyone other than his family.

“My next step is to arrange my life and study, to continue to fight against the oppression of the Mongolian nationality,” he said.

Amnesty International considered Hada a prisoner of conscience and has expressed fears about his well-being, as have the US and EU.

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

In 2011, the Mongol community held demonstrations demanding better protection of their rights and traditions, protests that were spurred by the death of a herder who had been rallying against coal mine pollution.

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