BEIJING (Reuters) – A dissident who had been one of China’s longest-serving political prisoners until his release this month will sue the government for illegally detaining him and is suffering severe mental problems, his wife and son said on Thursday.
The ethnic Mongol activist, Hada, had spent much of the last two decades behind bars, including the last four years in an extra-judicial “black jail”. Many Mongols in China go by just one name.
He says he was tortured while in detention and has been threatened since he was let out.
Hada was tried in 1996 and jailed for 15 years for separatism, spying and supporting the Southern Mongolian Democratic Alliance, which sought greater rights.
Decades of migration by members of the Han community have left Chinese Mongols a minority in their own land. Officially, they make up less than a fifth of Inner Mongolia’s almost 24 million people.
The government fears ethnic unrest in border areas and keeps a tight rein on Inner Mongolia, just as it does on Tibet and Xinjiang in the west, even though the region is supposed to have a large measure of autonomy.
Hada’s wife, Xinna, said the lawsuit would focus not only on overturning Hada’s “illegal detention” for the past four years, but also her conviction for illegally operating a business and their son Uiles’ drug conviction, charges the family denies.
But he needs time first to get used to life outside jail, Xinna said.
“He has the typical symptoms of Stockholm syndrome,” Xinna told Reuters from Inner Mongolia capital Hohhot by telephone, referring to a condition where people who have been held captive sympathise with those holding them.
Hada spoke briefly on the telephone, to say that he was in poor shape and “didn’t know anything about society” now that he had been set free.
Uiles said that his father had been kept in solitary confinement during his time in the black jail and plied with alcohol, adding that over the entire 19 years of detention he had been given almost no opportunity to speak his native Mongol language.
“He won’t see anyone,” Uiles said. “He’s trying to avoid everything. He was terrorised while in jail.”
Calls to the Inner Mongolia government seeking comment went unanswered.