BEIJING (Reuters) - China has moved a prominent ethnic Mongolian rights activist to a “luxury resort”, a rights group said on Thursday, in the first account of his whereabouts in more than a year since he was put under house arrest.
Hada, who like many ethnic Mongolians in China uses a single name, was tried in China’s vast northern Inner Mongolia region in 1996 and jailed for 15 years for separatism, spying and supporting the Southern Mongolian Democratic Alliance, which seeks greater rights for ethnic Mongolians.
He was released in December 2010 and then had to serve a separate sentence, “four years of deprivation of political rights”, Tao Jian, the deputy Communist Party boss of Inner Mongolia’s law and order committee, said in March.
Hada has since been transferred to the resort in the Chifeng municipality of Inner Mongolia, the New York-based Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Centre (SMHRIC) said in an emailed statement, citing Hada’s uncle, Haschuluu.
The news comes just a couple of weeks after blind Chinese legal activist Chen Guangcheng escaped house arrest and sought refuge in the U.S. embassy in a drama that has made him a symbol of resistance to China’s shackles on dissent.
Few other details were available about Hada’s whereabouts or the conditions or term of his stay, and government officials in Inner Mongolia, a semi-autonomous provincial region on China’s northern border, were not available for comment.
Chinese authorities often place released political prisoners under house arrest or otherwise restrict their movements and contact with the outside world.
OFFER OF “BEAUTIFUL GIRLFRIEND”
Haschuluu told the group that Hada was in poor health and had rejected an offer to go free along with family members in exchange for signing a paper that would be tantamount to admitting wrongdoing.
Hada’s wife, Xinna, who has denied her husband is a separatist, was jailed for three years in April for “engaging in illegal business”, the group said.
“This is a completely trumped-up charge used by the authorities to have the family cooperate and keep them quiet,” Enghebatu Togochog at the SMHRIC said in emailed comments to Reuters.
Xinna was living in her rented warehouse with her son, Uiles, in Hohhot, the capital of Inner Mongolia, because their house had been confiscated, the group said, citing Haschuluu.
Chinese authorities had offered Xinna and Uiles good jobs, nice cars, a luxury house and a special offer of a “beautiful girlfriend” to Uiles if they cooperated with the authorities, or risk arrest, detention and imprisonment, the group said.
Hanshuulan, Xinna’s mother, told SMHRIC that they had rejected the offer.
“They are determined to sue the government for the arbitrary detention, imprisonment and physical and mental sufferings inflicted on them during the past 17 years,” she said.
Ethnic Mongolians, who make up less than 20 percent of the roughly 24 million population of Inner Mongolia, have long complained that traditional grazing lands have been ruined by mining and desertification, and that the government has marginalized their culture and language.
Inner Mongolia was rocked by protests in May last year over the death of an ethnic Mongolian herder who was hit by a truck after taking part in protests against pollution caused by a coal mine.
Reporting by Sui-Lee Wee; Editing by Ken Wills and Nick Macfie