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Tension in Inner Mongolia surrounding activist's imminent release, supporters harassed

(RSF/IFEX) - 25 November 2010 - Reporters Without Borders urges the Chinese authorities not to delay the release of Mongol journalist and human rights activist Hada, who will complete a 15-year jail sentence in Inner Mongolia on 10 December. Their behaviour towards his supporters indicates a degree of nervousness about the prospect of his imminent release.

"We ask the authorities to allow Hada to be reunited with his family after his release," Reporters Without Borders said. "We also urge them to stop all forms of surveillance of those who defend Mongol ethnic minority rights peacefully online."

Govruud Huuchinhuu, a writer who defends the rights of China's Mongol minority, has been placed under house arrest for trying online to organize Hada's supporters to greet him. Arrested at her home in Tongliao, in the southeast of Inner Mongolia, by two plain-clothes policemen on 11 November, she was taken to the Horchin district Bureau of Public Security and then sent home. Since then, her movements have been restricted and she cannot be reached.

Hada was arrested on 10 December 1995 for creating an organization that defended the rights of ethnic Mongols and for publishing a magazine called The Voice of the Southern Mongolia. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 1996 on charges of "separatism" and "spying."

He has served his sentence in Chifeng prison (Inner Mongolia), where he has constantly been bullied and physically mistreated by fellow inmates and guards, who have prevented him from writing and reading books and newspapers. Diagnosed by doctors as suffering from peripheral neuritis and phlebitis, he has been given nothing to relieve the associated pain. His wife and son have also been subjected to reprisals for campaigning for his release.

More information about Hada:

Huuchinhuu has been defending freedom of expression, especially on the Internet, for more than 10 years. She used to help manage and moderate online discussion forums for Mongol students and intellectuals, such as , and . They were closed by the Chinese authorities in recent years for "posting secessionist content" and "discussing ethnic issues."

When police searched Huuchinhuu's home after the Mongol Yurt Forum ( ) was banned, they deleted all the files on her computer's hard disk. The site's creator, Sodmongol, was arrested at Beijing international airport on 17 April as he was about to leave to attend a session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. He was freed three months later but can no longer be reached.

Inner Mongolia continues to suffer from the Chinese government's cyber-censorship. The latest website to be censored is Ulaaq ( ), a site created and managed by the writer Naranbilig. The site has been "sinicized" and Naranbilig has been placed under house arrest.

No truly independent website or discussion forum currently exists in Inner Mongolia.

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