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Ethnic Minorities Remain Marginalized, Tensions Rise

DATE: April 1, 2008

Ethnic minorities in the People's Republic of China continue to be marginalized and excluded, resulting in infringements on their rights to preserve their unique cultural identities and express their beliefs. Ethnic rights activists such as Hada (哈达), who has been actively promoting indigenous Mongol culture and language as well as increased political participation for over 20 years, are frequently persecuted for their efforts. Hada, former owner of a Mongolian studies bookshop, was sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment for incitement of espionage and separatism for his work with the Southern Mongolian Democratic Alliance.
Too often the cultural and religious expressions of Mongols, Tibetans, Uyghurs and other minorities, are labeled by Chinese authorities as separatism or terrorism.
— Sharon Hom, HRIC Executive Director

"If minorities are not allowed to express their cultural identity and meaningfully participate in the governance of their autonomous areas, then we will continue to see frustration surface as happened in March in Tibetan areas," said Sharon Hom, Executive Director of Human Rights in China. "Too often the cultural and religious expressions of Mongols, Tibetans, Uyghurs and other minorities, are labeled by Chinese authorities as separatism or terrorism. In this system it is not surprising that tensions boil over and only by ensuring human rights can a genuine harmonious society be achieved."

In 1992, Hada formed what would later become the Southern Mongolian Democratic Alliance (SMDA) with fellow activist Tegexi. SMDA later set out its main mission as "opposing colonization by the Han people and striving for self-determination, freedom and democracy in Southern [Inner] Mongolia." Hada is currently serving the 12th year of his 15-year sentence in Chifeng Prison. He has been subjected to torture and ill-treatment, and his health is reportedly failing. According to the account of a released political prisoner from Chifeng prison interviewed by Human Rights in China (HRIC), Hada has been routinely abused and brutalized as well as subjected to disciplinary punishments. He has been denied the liberties generally afforded to other prisoners as well as proper medical attention and regular contact with his family.

Visit HRIC's Incorporating Responsibility 2008 Olympics Take Action Campaign (http://www.ir2008.org) for more information on these cases and on petitioning.

For additional information about Hada, see:

About Human Rights in China
Founded by Chinese students and scholars in March 1989, Human Rights in China (HRIC) is an international, Chinese, non-governmental organization with a mission to promote international human rights and advance the institutional protection of these rights in the People's Republic of China.

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