SMHRIC: Over 100 global rights groups call for the immediate release of Mongolian writer and activist Munkhbayar Chuluundorj

World leaders urged to jointly press for all charges against him to be dropped and for him to be freed

FULL STATEMENT PDF

Human rights groups have today called on the Mongolian government to immediately release human rights defender Munkhbayar Chuluundorj who is serving a 10-year prison sentence on politically motivated charges related to his public criticism of the Mongolian government’s close ties with China. [Full statement text and list of signatories can be seen below]

Mr. Munkhbayar Chuluundorj is an award-winning Mongolian journalist, poet, and human rights activist known for defending the linguistic, cultural, and historical identities of Southern Mongolians. In February 2022 he was arbitrarily arrested, in the Mongolian capital Ulaanbaatar, after raising public critique of the relationship between the Mongolian and Chinese governments and the links to a crackdown on the rights in Southern Mongolia [CH: Inner Mongolia], which China has occupied since 1949.

Togochog Enghebatu of Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center said: “Munkhbayar ‘s case reminds us of that the Chinese regime is not just a colonial power that occupies once independent Southern Mongolia, Tibet, and East Turkistan, but also a global hegemon that threatens its sovereign neighbors and the wider free and democratic world.”

Aurora Chang, International Tibet Network, said: “Munkhbayar’s unjust conviction and detainment is one in a long line of examples of the overreach of Beijing’s power outside of its borders, and the Chinese Communist Party’s disregard for the sovereignty of other countries and international law. Human rights activists, lawyers, and writers from all across the world are calling for Munkhbayar’s release, and it is imperative that the Mongolian authorities listen to them now in the interest of protecting democracy and freedom of expression.”

Talita Pessoa, Program Director, PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Center, said: “The unjust conviction of Munkhbayar Chuluundorj is a worrisome example of the use of national security laws to criminalize human rights defenders. The charges and his subsequent conviction have effectively silenced Munkhbayar Chuluundorj’s criticism of both the Mongolian and Chinese governments’ policies around the culture and language of ethnic Mongolians living in China’s Inner Mongolia. It’s noteworthy that his trial happened amid China’s new public education policies to remove Mongolian language instruction for various key subjects in the region. We urge the Mongolian authorities to respect their citizens’ fundamental right of freedom of expression, calling for the conviction to be voided and for Chuluundorj’s immediate release.”

Hidetoshi Ishii of Free Tibet Fukuoka said: “We cannot overlook the fact that an authoritarian country is repainting democratic countries. Rescuing Munkhbayar isn’t just about helping one individual, it’s about protecting democracy.”

CONTACTS:
Togochog Enghebatu, Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center: enghebatu@smhric.org
Hidetoshi Ishii, Free Tibet Fukuoka: npodga@gmail.com
Aurora Chang, International Tibet Network: aurora@tibetnetwork.org
FULL STATEMENT TEXT:

We urge the Mongolian government to immediately release Mr. Munkhbayar Chuluundorj who was arbitrarily arrested in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, by the General Intelligence Agency (GIA) of Mongolia on February 17, 2022.

Mr. Munkhbayar Chuluundorj is an award-winning Mongolian journalist, poet, and human rights activist known for defending the linguistic, cultural, and historical identities of Southern Mongolians.

Mr. Munkhbayar Chuluundorj was detained in Ulaanbaatar on politically motivated charges related to his public criticism of the Mongolian government’s close ties with China and the shrinking rights in Southern Mongolia [CH: Inner Mongolia], which China has occupied since 1949. His arrest and sentencing took place amid China’s increasingly severe policies in Southern Mongolia that aim to remove learning in the Mongolian language for several key subjects. These restrictive policies are similar to those rolled out by Chinese authorities in Tibet and East Turkistan [CH: Xinjiang], and recent moves to replace Cantonese education in Hong Kong with Mandarin.

Mr. Munkhbayar Chuluundorj was sentenced to 10 years in prison on June 28, 2022, for “collaborating with a foreign intelligence agency” against the People’s Republic of China. On December 21, 2022, the Supreme Court of Mongolia heard his appeal and upheld the lower court’s original decision. There is no evidence linking Mr. Munkhbayar Chuluundorj to the charge and his lawyer, Ms. Baasan Geleg, has dismissed the national security charge against him as entirely baseless.

In September 2022 two handwritten letters from Mr. Munkhbayar Chuluundorj – penned in the detention center in June 2022 – were received by the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center. In the letters, he pleaded his innocence and detailed how he believed the evidence against him had been fabricated in relation to his work to better the conditions of Mongolians.

Land-locked Mongolia is highly dependent on China for imports and there has been an increase in economic influence, including vast loans via Xi Jinping’s ‘Belt and Road Initiative’, in recent years that have pushed Mongolia into major indebtedness to China. These debts are further exacerbated by a program of cultural propaganda such as the establishment of Confucius Institutes, television and radio broadcasts, and cultural centers.

Growing concern about the Mongolian state’s harassment, intimidation, and reprisals against human rights defenders is growing. In October 2022, the UN Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights raised the issue of human rights defenders and recommended Mongolia put in place protection safeguards and ‘urgently investigate cases in which human rights defenders are criminalized’. Later in the same month, the Japanese “Parliamentary Support Group for Southern Mongolia” published a statement regarding the sentence of Mr. Munkhbayar Chuluundorj.

Rights groups are calling on like-minded governments – both jointly and bi-laterally – and the UN Human Rights Council to call for the immediate release of Mr. Munkhbayar Chuluundorj.

SIGNED BY:

Togochog Enghebatu, President, Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center

Hidetoshi Ishii, Senior Advisor, Free Tibet Fukuoka

Elbegdorj Tsakhyiagiin, President of World Mongol Federation and former President of Mongolia

Dolkun Isa, President, World Uyghur Congress

Anna Kwok, Executive Director, Hong Kong Democracy Council

Mandie McKeown, Executive Director, International Tibet Network

Talita Pessoa, Program Director, PEN America

Dr. Sanj Altan, President, Mongol American Cultural Association

Dr. Yang Jianli, President, Citizen Power Initiatives for China

Merce Monje Cano, Executive Director, Unrepresented Nations, and Peoples Organization

On behalf of the following global rights groups:

Afghanistan Cinema Club
Afghanistan Hazara Culture and Solidarity Association (AHCSA)
Alaska Tibet Committee
Altanseseg Band
Asociación Cultural Tibetano-Costarricense
Association France Tibet
Australian Uyghur Tangritagh Women’s Association
Bath District Tibet Support Group
Bayanmongol NGO (USA)
Bolaq Analysts Network USA
Buriat House
Buryaat Mongol United Association
CADAL
Campaign For Uyghurs
Captive Nations Coalition
Casa del Tibet
Centre for Himalayan Asia Studies and Engagement (CHASE)
China Against the Death Penalty
China Alarm
China Change
Chinggis Khan Memorial Foundation
Comité de Apoyo al Tíbet – CAT
Committee on the Present Danger: China
Foundation for Non-violent Alternatives
Fredrik Larsson
Free Tibet
Free Tibet Fukuoka
FREE TIBET ITALY
Fundacion Casa del Tibet
Global Alliance for Tibet & Persecuted Minorities
Grupo de Apoio ao Tibete-Portugal
Hazara Committee in UK
Hazara Community in Ireland
Hazara Community of Washington
Hazara Organization for Peace and Equality (HOPE)
Hazara Research Center
Hong Kong Committee in Norway
India – Tibet Friendship Society
India Tibet Friendship Society NAGPUR
Inner Mongolia People’s Party
Institute for China’s Democratic Transition
InterMongol Network
International PEN Uyghur Center
International Society for Human Rights – Sweden
International Society for Human Rights, Munich chapter
Kalmyk Project
Kalmyk Youth Coalition
Keep Taiwan Free
La Federacion of Cantonia
Latvia for Tibet
Law and Society Alliance (LSA)
LUNGTA – Actief voor Tibet
Mongol Heritage Foundation
Mongolian 4-H NGO (USA)
National Democratic Party of Tibet
New Yorkers Supporting Hong Kong
Nutug Chuulgan
Objectif Tibet
RangZen Brazil
Regional Tibetan Youth Congress NYNJ
Santa Barbara Friends of Tibet
Save the Mongolian Language NGO
Students for a Free Tibet
Students for a Free Tibet – Japan
Students for a Free Tibet – Taiwan
Students For a Free Tibet- India
Swedish Mongolian Committee (Svenska Mongol Kommitten)
Swedish Tibet Committee
Swiss Tibetan Friendship Association
Terrorism Victims Protection Organization (TVPO)
The Norwegian Tibet Committee
The Tibet Support Committee, Denmark
Tibet Justice Center
Tibet Solidarity
Tibet Support Association Sambhala Tibet Center
Tibet Support Groep Nederland
Tibet Support Group Ireland
TIBET WATCH
Tibetan Community in Britain
Tibetan Community in Switzerland and Liechtenstein
Tibetans of Mixed Heritage
Tso Pema Non-Profit
TSSA
UK Mongolian Community
USTC US Tibet Committee
Uyghur American Association
Uyghur Human Rights Project
Uyghur Rights Advocacy Project
Vancouver Society in Support of Democratic Movement
Voice of Southern Mongolia
World Hazara Council
World Mongol Federation Europe
World Mongol Federation USA
Youth Liberation Front of Tibet, East-Turkistan, Manchuria & Inner-Mongolia (YLFTM ) New-Delhi
Zerd Band

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