December 10, 2022
The following is an English translation of two letters handwritten and sent to the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center by Mr. Munkhbayar Chuluundorj concerning his case. Mr. Munkhbayar Chuluundorj, a journalist, writer, human rights defender and citizen of the independent country of Mongolia, was sentenced to 10 years in prison by a Mongolian court recently for his alleged “collaboration with a foreign intelligence agency against the People’s Republic of China” (English translation by SMHRIC):
I am a longtime activist who has worked to defend the human rights of Southern Mongolians for years.
The Chinese government’s policy of banning the Mongolian language in schools and society at large in Southern Mongolia led to widespread protests and demonstrations in the summer and fall of 2020. Citizen support of Southern Mongolia had never been as widespread. I actively took part in these protests and demonstrations as an organizer and coordinator.
At this time, I started getting to know a foreigner who supported human rights activism for the cause of Southern Mongolia. Since my “case” was labeled “top secret” by the Mongolian authorities, I am afraid I cannot divulge any further details—but I did nothing but tell the foreigner that I would continue my activism for universally accepted and respected human rights.
On February 17, 2022, Mongolian General Intelligence agents arrested me by force without any legal justification while I was walking down the street and searched my residency without a warrant, confiscating the cash, documents, phones, and computers of my family members. They returned all these items, except for my phone and laptop, to my family a week later as they failed to find any evidence of my alleged “link with foreign intelligence.” I was told that the search was necessary in accordance with Article 19.4.1 of the Criminal Code of Mongolia as I was suspected of “committing the crime of collaborating with a foreign intelligence agency.”
Shortly after that, in the name of “clarifying some matters,” they took me to the General Intelligence Agency headquarters and arrested me. Their justifications were that some cash was found in my home and that a witness claimed the foreigner with whom I was in contact was a spy.
On February 18, 2022, I was notified that I would be detained as a suspect.
On February 21, 2022, I was told that I would be prosecuted. On the same day, the General Intelligence Agency of Mongolia held a press conference and announced that I was guilty. Following this, online reports claimed that I was “arrested in action while receiving 200 million tugriks from the Indian Consulate” and “sentenced to eight years in prison.” Some of the information disclosed in these reports originated from the General Intelligence Agency’s so-called “top secret” documents.
After a year and three months of secret surveillance and investigation, the General Intelligence Agency failed to find any evidence that I violated the law. It is also worth noting that I was arrested only a few days after my colleagues and I hosted a press conference to criticize the Mongolian Prime Minister for remarking that “Mongolia would like to board China’s express train of prosperity” during his visit to Beijing for the Winter Olympics opening ceremony.