Writer sentenced for “national separatism” and “illegal business”
Sept 15, 2019
Mr. Lhamjab A. Borjgin, a Southern (Inner) Mongolian historian and author of the book China’s Cultural Revolution (Ulaan Huvisgalin Mongolian), was sentenced to one year in prison with a two-year reprieve for “national separatism” and “illegal business,” according to a court decision by the Shiliin-hot People’s Court.
Dated July 3, 2019, the court’s decision states that “the defendant Lhamjab published 2,000 copies of the China’s Cultural Revolution without an approved book number and made some profit. In addition to a certain number of copies that he voluntarily turned in, 836 copies have been confiscated. The whereabouts of the remaining copies are still unclear.”
“During a carefully investigation,” the court’s decision continues, “the court found that this illegally published book, China’s Cultural Revolution, has contents of national separatism, and the author’s act already constitutes a crime of illegal business.”
“In accordance with Article 225 of the Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China, the court has decided as follows: Defendant Lhamjab is sentenced to one year in prison with a two-year reprieve. The prison term shall take effect on the date the actual criminal imprisonment starts. The number of days of prior detention, if any, shall be deducted from the prison term. Additionally, the defendant is subject to a fine of 2,000 RMB (approximately USD 300),” the court paper stated.
On August 26, 2019, a court order entitled the Notice of Community Correction was served to Lhamjab, detailing the restrictions imposed during the suspension of imprisonment.
In addition to a number of restrictions to mobility, the notice states that Lhamjab has “no right to vote, no right to be elected,” and is “not allowed to organize or attend any gathering, protest, demonstration and assembly; not allowed to publish and distribute any print materials and multimedia products; not allowed to receive interviews and not allowed to speak in public; not allowed to be involved in any speech, at home and abroad, undermining the reputation of the state and harming the national interest and society.”
“I am under house arrest, and all my contacts were taken away. I am not allowed to go anywhere, and I’m required to come to the Public Security Bureau in person daily to report my status. A weekly written statement is required to detail my status,” Lhamjab said, in an audio statement he managed to send out through a friend.
“Like the Monkey King of the classic Chinese story who was given a headband for his uncontrollability, I am given a Communist ring for my head. My right to move and right to think are taken away by the Chinese authorities,” Lhamjab joked in the statement.
In 2006, after 20 years of research and interviews, Lhamjab completed his book China’s Cultural Revolution. The book compiles oral testimonies of survivors of China’s state-sponsored large-scale genocide campaign in Southern Mongolia during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. In the book, Lhamjab documents detailed accounts of torture techniques and the gruesome nature of this genocide campaign that according to official statistics from the Chinese Government, claimed the lives of at least 27,900 people and imprisoned and tortured 346,000. For credibility and verification, the book includes phone numbers and other contact information of the survivors he interviewed.
Lhamjab published the China’s Cultural Revolution through underground publishers at his own expense, as all state-run Chinese publishing houses refused to publish it. The book became popular among Mongolians not only in Southern Mongolia, but also in the independent country of Mongolia. Subsequently, it was republished in Southern Mongolia and even published in Cyrillic Mongolian Scripts in Mongolia. Since last year, an abridged audio version of the book has gone viral among Mongolians through Chinese social media, in particular, on WeChat.
As the book attracted more readers, the Chinese authorities acted promptly to confiscate the copies of the book and started to harass the author. Starting July 11, 2018, Lhamjab has been placed under “residential surveillance”, a form of house arrest, by the local Public Security Bureau. PEN America stated in a press release that “detention of Southern Mongolian author is putting historical inquiry on trial.”
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