In a phone conversation with Human Rights in China (HRIC), Uiles (威勒斯), the son of Mongolian dissident Hada (哈达), who has been under more than two years of illegal detention, says that his father is severely withdrawn and has psychological problems but is being denied medical treatment.
Hada, an advocate of Mongolian cultural preservation, served 15 years on conviction of espionage and separatism. He was released from prison in December 2010, but was immediately taken into custody. The authorities have not provided any legal basis for his detention. “Being locked up for 17 years has ravaged his body and mind,” said Uiles.
According to Uiles, the authorities in the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region have made it impossible for him and his mother, Xinna (新娜), to work and support themselves—forcing them to rely on government handouts. The authorities are attempting to isolate them by forbidding them from speaking to foreign press, by cutting off almost all of their communication channels, and by intimidating their friends and neighbors.
Previously, on October 22, 2012, HRIC reported on the conditions of Hada and his family after Hada’s prison release. This new account by Uiles—see below English translation by HRIC—provides fresh details on a family being pushed to the brink.
What happened to my father 18 years ago1 was a miscarriage of justice. He was sentenced to 15 years because he raised the issues concerning ethnic minorities. He has been held in illegal detention for more than two years now since he was released from prison in December 2010. Being locked up for 17 years has ravaged his body and mind. In particular, after he was “released,” the authorities took the two people dearest to him and detained them.2 When he was behind bars, they didn’t let him read the newspaper, have visitors, write letters, or exercise. We didn’t even know what things he needed.
In the beginning [of the post-release detention], they [the authorities] said they would guarantee his right to see a doctor, but now he can’t even see a doctor. If he saw a doctor, more people would certainly know how things are. They don’t let father see his family. If we don’t see him, they [the guards] can of course relax. They lock their door and drink 200 yuan-bottle wine, smoke 40 yuan-packet cigarettes, and play cards inside. The food they give my father is like food for pigs, and they make us pay to subscribe to newspapers for him.
Chief Yao, the person in charge of his detention, has no personal issues with us, but he is extremely cruel toward my father. Obviously, it’s an explicit assignment handed down from some superior. From what they [the authorities] have said, we feel that they have two goals. One, not to let Hada die while in their hands, and two, force him to plead guilty. Privately, these people are all aware that my father is just an intellectual who was sentenced to more than 10 years because he put forth some ideas. And now, not only is the family separated, but family members are also under their tight control. They went to my father’s relatives in the Northeast and started the rumor that he doesn’t miss me or my mother. If this were the case, one can only say that they have driven him to this state. My uncle [film director] Hasi Chaolu came to Hohhot to see him but they denied his request to my father.
My mother saw him a few times last year, and he quarreled with her whenever he saw her. He is under so much pressure. My mother said that he has become really paranoid and has mental problems. He did not speak to me when I saw him; I tried to soothe him, but he scolded me.
After having applied many times to see him since September 2012, the authorities finally allow my mother to see him on January 1, 2013. Yesterday (January 4), the police came with a letter that she wrote on the evening of January 3. In it, she said that father has gained a lot of weight, was severely withdrawn, and didn’t want to leave the building. On the first day of the visit, he was still very happy to see her. She got him to go outside to move about for a bit, as well as to drink, eat, and sleep less.3 The next day, he began to ignore her.
Originally, my mother worked in an educational institution, but was forced to leave her school because of my father’s case. Later she opened a bookstore for preserving Mongolia culture, and raised me by herself through untold hardships. In the end, because my father did not want to plead guilty or accept their eight demands, my mother was arrested and convicted of “illegal business operation.” Tens of thousands of yuan’s worth of books, video products, and other items were also seized. They said that her license expired and she was doing business beyond the scope allowed, akin to selling salted duck eggs in a shop licensed only to sell bread. But so many others are now selling the same things—why haven’t they been arrested? They also accused her of trying to organize 93 people to welcome my father at the train station. After her release from prison, mother was not allowed to continue to operate her bookstore.
Even our little community has been thrown into a state of extreme panic—you wouldn’t even see a stray dog on the street. There are eight surveillance cameras aimed at us. They control our phones; we are like marionettes in their hands. When they want information from us, our phones work. But more often than not, we simply cannot receive any calls. We can’t even get through to grandmother. My landlord tried once calling me while standing right in front of us; he couldn’t get through.
We needed to live and were preparing to get rid of some books we had in storage to make some money. People who wanted to buy our books were picked up and threatened as soon as they left the bookstore. Later, they didn’t even dare to take our calls.
Last time, after my mother came back from an unapproved visit to my grandma in Baotou, she was reprimanded at the gate of our community in front of many people. The deputy director of the local police substation howled: if you dare to go to Baotou again, we will stop giving you your living stipend! Ever since, neighbors have been avoiding her.
For me, I can’t live a normal life just because I am Hada’s son. Friends who grew up with me don’t dare have any contact with me. Everyone is afraid of the Communist Party. My father was released from prison on December 10 ; my mother was arrested on December 3. The bookstore, the warehouse, and our home were searched and turned upside down, and they started following me. Two days later, I was accused of “illegal possession of drugs”—a trumped up charge. They tried to force me to hold the drugs they claimed they had found in my room. I refused and demanded an examination of the fingerprints on the drugs.
Later they asked me to sign a letter of six guarantees, and they would exempt me from criminal prosecution. If I had really possessed drugs illegally, how could they exempt me from criminal prosecution and release me? The six guarantees included not accepting foreign media interviews, not publishing information about our family online, not contacting certain people, etc. They lent me a camera to learn photography. After I accepted an interview in November, they took it back saying that they needed to use it.
I want to make my own living and went to work as a waiter in a restaurant. But after only 20 some days, my boss told me that the police had already come to talk to him four or five times. They said that I was a threat to state security and told my boss that if this fellow continued to work here, he might as well close up shop. When I went out with my girlfriend, they went to threaten her. When I went with my friends to karaoke, as soon as we stepped into the place, the police searched me for narcotics. They are trying to establish, in front of my friends, that I am a problem person, so that my friends would stop having contact with me. You know what? They told me that I would live very well if I did not participate in my father’s affairs. And if I quit being cannon fodder for my father, they could even help me find a job or a girlfriend.
During our [my mother’s and my] detention, they tried to convince my uncle that if we shut up, we—even Hada—would be released. But these were all lies. My father continues to be illegally detained.
In the past, it was officers from the Domestic Security Brigade of the Public Security Department of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region (IMAR) who kept watch on us, but there hasn’t been anyone watching us since Hu Chunhua (胡春华) [former Party Secretary of IMAR4] left office. As a young politician, Hu Chunhua should have kept pace with the tides of history and been more rational and liberal about ethnic issues. But he brought CPC policies in Tibet with him. In April 2009, Hu took office; on January 20, 2010, he sent people to the jail to ask my father to plead guilty, promise to not accept interviews, and not contact certain people, and to tell him what would happen if he did not plead guilty. Hu Chunhua left IMAR in November last year. Before he left, he again took serious precautions against us—he did not give us sufficient living expenses and put us under strict surveillance. During Hu Chunhua’s time in office in IMAR, he used our livelihood to blackmail us and treated us like monkeys in a zoo. He did not let us contact anyone. Because I gave an interview in November , the people following me grabbed my cell phone; I was beaten up, and my bag was snatched away. I reported it to the Public Security Department and the Party’s Political and Legislative Affairs Committee. No one cared. The phone number I used to report the incident was also cut off.
During the 18th Party Congress [in November 2012], I went to give a wedding gift to my classmates, and we took some photos at the pool at the Inner Mongolia Hotel [in Hohhot]; the people following me immediately snatched them away. When I saw some people following me in the street I took their photos, they yanked and broke my backpack and took away my mobile phone. I reported it, but no one paid attention. The license plate ID of the car of the person who took by mobile phone is “蒙AT7203.”
Sometime ago, I wrote a letter to Xi Jinping (习近平). In the letter I said that during the Jiang Zemin (江泽民) era, my father was sentenced to more than 10 years; and during the Hu Jintao (胡锦涛) era, they detained and sentenced his son and wife. They confiscated hundreds of thousands of yuan from us—blatant robbery—depriving us of ways to survive and then used money [living stipends] to silence us. They placed all kinds of restrictions on us and expected us to be grateful. Our request is only that my father be released. We don’t understand why they hate ethnic minorities so much. Why is it illegal for ethnic minorities to making reasonable requests? Historically, during repression in the ethnic minority areas, minorities were not treated as human. You can read in the US [Department of State’s] human rights report that there are a lot of people who have been sentenced to life in prison or given the death penalty in Tibet and Xinjiang. Here in Inner Mongolia, they detain an entire family, sentence them, and do not give them the space to survive.
On December 29, 2012, three people from the IMAR Political and Legislative Affairs Committee and the Domestic Security Protection Brigade of the Public Security Bureau invited my mother and me to a dinner. They still emphasized to us that we could not accept foreign press interviews, and that I should obey instructions and try to establish a good relationship with those who had been tailing me and robbed me of my cell phone. In response we also raised our requests. One, they should release my father because there is absolutely no basis for his continued detention. My father’s treatment does not match any of the 10 conditions of deprivation of political rights stipulated by the Ministry of Public Security. Two, regarding persecution of the family, the question is why are we not allowed to continue operating the bookstore. If we are not allowed to sell video products, then we should be allowed to sell books and handicrafts. If my mother is not allowed to run the store, then I should be. Three, stop following us and harassing us. They said: don’t even think about operating your bookstore.
Xi Jinping has a slogan: “Build a beautiful China.” If people are not allowed to live, how could a beautiful China be built? I am calling on the new leaders to not treat people differently because of ethnic and ideological differences, and not make it impossible for us to survive. To do this is genocide. We don’t want to depend on their charity. We only want to provide for ourselves and make a living through our own ability. My mother and father are getting older and not in good health. My only expectation is that my father will leave detention alive, even for only one day. If we are allowed to operate our bookstore, our lives would be free from worry. Unfortunately, they have treated us as if we were a nail in their eye. They don’t care if we live or die, don’t allow us to have contact with others, and don’t allow us to provide for ourselves. How would my working as a waiter to make a living endanger state security?
They don’t allow us to answer phone calls from overseas, saying that people from overseas are all anti-China forces. So the only way that we can tell the world of our inhuman treatment and reveal the dark side is to go through organizations such as yours. I hope that your help in advocating for us will bring a change to our conditions.