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Dissident Detained in Mongolia

October 26, 2009

Chinese authorities make an unusual arrest in the Mongolian capital.
Radio Free Asia
October 21, 2009

The headquarters of the Mongolian People's
Revolutionary Party at Sukhbaatar square in Ulaanbaatar, July 2, 2008.

HONG KONG -- Chinese police from the northern
city of Ordos, in China's Inner Mongolia, have
detained the head of a Tibetan medical college
outside United Nations offices in the capital of
the neighboring independent country of Mongolia,
sparking calls for greater protection for asylum-seekers in third countries.

Batzangaa, 35, a Chinese national and ethnic
Mongolian who developed a network of traditional
Mongolian-Tibetan medical practitioners around
the Inner Mongolian region of China, was arrested
at the front entrance of the U.N. refugee agency
office building in Ulaanbaatar on Oct. 3.

Four Chinese police officers sent from China
accompanied by more than 10 Mongolian police
detained Batzangaa, his wife Bayanhuaar, and their nine-year old daughter.

"We were in Mongolia at the time," Bayanhuaar said.

"They brought us back from Mongolia [to China].
At the time, they told us it was because we owed
someone money because we set up a school of
Tibetan medicine, and they were suing us to get
it back, that it was 'economic fraud.'"

No recourse

According to the New York-based Southern
Mongolian Human Rights Information Center
(SMHRIC), the three were deported back to Ordos
municipality in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous
Region, China, on the same day, with no apparent
recourse to Mongolian legal proceedings to challenge the deportation order.

Before leaving China, Batzangaa had set up and
run the Ordos Mongol-Tibetan Medical School of
traditional Tibetan medicine, and had a series of
disputes with the Chinese authorities over the
right to maintain the school’s ethnic
characteristics, the group said in a statement.

Bayanhuaar and the couple's daughter were
released from detention, but were placed under
house arrest immediately after arriving at Ordos' Dongsheng district.

Bayanhuaar was notified of her husband's formal
arrest by the local authorities Oct. 8.

Communications cut

Batzangaa is being held at the Dongsheng District Detention Center.

"After my husband left [Ordos], he told us that
someone might be trying to kill us, and our
Internet was cut off at home. So was the telephone line," she said.

"We [applied] for asylum [in Mongolia]."

She said she visited her husband in the Ordos
Detention Center Tuesday, and called for his immediate release.

Chairman of Inner Mongolian People's Party Xi
Haiming said the Chinese government is anxious to
stamp out any cultural ties between Mongolians
and Tibetans following ethnic unrest in Tibetan
areas of China, which peaked in Lhasa in March 2008.

"I think that this case is very political,
because at the beginning of this dispute the
authorities were saying that it had nothing to do
with money, that it wasn't an economic problem," Xi said.

"They are too sensitive about the use of the word 'Tibetan.'"

Xi said Batzangaa was detained virtually on the
doorstep of the United Nations refugee agency in Ulaanbataar.

"He was detained outside the door of the United
Nations as he came out of their branch offices to
apply for political asylum by Chinese and
Mongolian police together. Does the UNHCR [U.N.
High Commissioner for Refugees] protect the rights of asylum-seekers or not?"

Medical school

In 2001, Batzangaa established the Ordos
Mongol-Tibetan Medical School in Dongsheng. The
school enrolled more than 1,000 Mongolian
students who began practicing Mongolian medicine,
providing affordable, sometimes even free,
medical treatment to poverty-stricken rural Mongolian communities.

Later, Batzangaa also set up the Affiliated
Hospital of the Ordos Mongol-Tibetan Medical
School with the coordination of Henan County
Mongol Tibetan Hospital in Khukhnuur province.

But the authorities put the school under
surveillance, alarmed by its growing ties with
Tibetans and Mongolians, and canceled the
school's land lease, citing "the authorities'
suspicion and surveillance towards ethnic
minorities" in its official documents, the SMHRIC said.

Xi continued: "There really is no difference
between Tibetan medicine and Mongolian medicine.
We Mongolians also believe in Tibetan mythology
and Buddhism. We are closely bound up with it."

"Under such circumstances, the Chinese Communist
Party wants to divide and rule ... Their purpose
is hidden, but it's the eradication of Tibetan and Mongolian culture."

Calls to the Ordos police station, municipal
education bureau, and Dongsheng district
government offices went unanswered during office hours Tuesday.

Original reporting in Mandarin by An Pei and by
RFA's Tibetan service. Mandarin service director:
Jennifer Chou. Tibetan service director: Jigme
Ngapo. Translated and written for the Web in
English by Luisetta Mudie. Edited by Sarah Jackson-Han.
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