Southern Mongolian Representative to United

Nations Conference Arrested at Beijing Airport



 April 28, 2009 


 Mr. Sodmongol (Cao Du on his Chinese passport), a representative of the indigenous Mongolian community in China was invited to attend the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) 9th Session at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. He was arrested at the Beijing Capital International Airport on April 18, 2010 by the Chinese authorities as he was departing China to attend the meeting. His whereabouts and health status remain unknown. This is the second time the Chinese authorities have arrested Mongolian representatives attempting to attend UNPFII. Two years ago, another Southern (Inner) Mongolian community leader, Mr. Naranbilig was arrested by the Chinese authorities and barred from attending the UNPFII 7th Session. He was put under one year house arrest following a 20 day detention.


Sodmongol was invited by the UNPFII to attend its 9th session, taking place from April 19 to 31, 2010 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. He was planning to be part of the indigenous Mongolian delegation organized by the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center (SHMRIC). As a grantee of the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Populations run by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNOHCHR), he was granted full travel funds to attend the PFII 9th Session. The United States Consulate in Shenyang, China, granted him a visa to the United States in support of his attendance to this event. According to the last communication received by SMHIRC from Sodmongol, he successfully completed the airport check in and customs check at the Beijing Capital International Airport at 2:55 PM Beijing Time on April 18, and was waiting to board Continental Airlines Flight CO88 from Beijing to Newark International Airport in New Jersey, USA. However, according to the Continental Airlines Beijing Branch Office, Sodmongol's airline ticket was cancelled for an unknown reason before the flight departure at 3:45 PM, and no further information was available.

To further investigate the case, SMHRIC contacted the Beijing Capital International Airport Public Security Bureau and Customs Check immediately. A customer service representative of the Customs Check confirmed that indeed a man was arrested and was not allowed to board the Flight CO88 while another customer representative of the Customs Check refused to provide any further details, claiming that this is a state secret.

SMHRIC contacted Sodmongol's wife Ms. Sun Huili. She told SMHRIC that the local police of Chao Yang City, Liao Ning Province, raided their house on the morning of April 19, and informed her of Sodmongol's arrest. The police searched their house and confiscated their personal computers, laptops, cell phones, papers and documents. Ms. Sun Huili was warned that the punishment to her husband will be harsher if she reveals anything about this event to others to appeal for his release.

Sodmongol, 45 years old, is a native Mongolian born in Ongniud Banner of Southern Mongolia. Before his arrest, he worked for the Institute of Education of Chao Yang City, Liao Ning Province, China. As one of the highly respected ethnic Mongolian indigenous rights defenders and human rights activists, Sodmongol has been playing an important role in defending ethnic Mongolians' basic human rights and fundamental freedoms within the Chinese legal framework. As part of his efforts for advocating freedom of speech, press and association of the Southern Mongolians, he created and ran one of the most popular Mongolian language internet forums called "Mongol Yurt Association" ( ) that was shutdown by the authorities several times due to its popularity and discussions of sensitive topics.

On June 13, 2009, Sodmongol was questioned by the Chinese authorities about his activities for allowing some sensitive topics to be discussed on the Mongol Yurt Association Internet forum. During the Chinese National Holiday last year, the site was officially shutdown. Currently the site is still inaccessible. Sodmongol was also an administrator of another popular Mongolian forum called the Mongol People Chat Room that was also shutdown by the Chinese authorities during last year's Chinese National Holiday. As gathering places of ethnic Mongolian intellectuals and students, these Internet sites have been very active in advocating the promotion and protection of ethnic Mongolian peoples' rights to practice their culture, language and tradition, and to maintain their distinct identity.

Along with other members of the Mongol Yurt Association and Mongol People Chat Room, Sodmongol also organized a number of workshops, seminars and charity events to educate the indigenous Mongolians how to protect their legal rights that are routinely violated by the Government, government agencies and large companies. One such event was a simultaneous workshop which took place in all major cities of Southern Mongolia during China's Celebration of the Establishment of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region in May 2009, promoting Mongolian language education and usage as mandated in the "Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region Regulation on the Work of Mongolian Language and Literatures". More than 20,000 fliers were distributed among the Mongolian communities across the region to encourage all Mongolian people to protect their legal right to use the Mongolian language in all parts of their social life in the Autonomous Region.

Supporting rural Mongolian students who had dropped out of school due to the Chinese authorities' "ecological migration" and "urbanization" policies has been an important part of Sodmongol's activities during the past several years. To enforce its "ecological migration" and "urbanization" policies, the Chinese Government has eliminated hundreds of Mongolian schools in rural Mongolian communities, creating a school dropout rate reaching 40% in some areas. Through charity events and other activities Sodmongol raised funds to support hundreds of Mongolian students and encouraged them to attend the existing few Mongolian schools in the Banner (equivalent in county) capitals.

Since 2006, Sodmongol has organized a series of virtual gatherings, online conferences and Internet discussions with topics related to the issues Southern Mongolian are facing. One such example is the Celebration of Chinggis Khaan's Birth Day on April 16 every year. The celebration of Chinggis Khaan's birthday by the Mongolians has been strictly prohibited by the Chinese authorities. Mongolian students' activities are closely monitored and the gathering of large numbers of Mongolian students is strictly prohibited on and around this day every year. To circumvent the authorities' tight control, Sodmongol initiated a virtual online Celebration of Chigghis Khaan's Birthday through the Mongol People Chat Room, a voice enabled Internet group chat room.

As a skilled and experienced computer user and web administrator, Sodmongol offered a series of free online training and seminars to Mongolian users on the usage of Internet and Mongolian language software. He encouraged Mongolian Internet users to use Mongolian language as the tool to communicate through the Internet and to get access to accurate and reliable information. Many Southern Mongolian Internet users even had had access to information regarding events taking place overseas by Southern Mongolian exiles through the Mongol Yurt Association and Mongol People Chat Room. Because of this exchange of information, these sites were shutdown by the Chinese authorities last October.

All of the aforementioned activities of Mr. Sodmongol are supposedly protected as parts of the legal rights of the ethnic Mongolians that are guaranteed by the Chinese Constitution and the Chinese Regional Ethnic Autonomy Law. Since China voted for the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), these rights of the indigenous Mongolian peoples must be protected by the Chinese Government in accordance with the articles of UNDRIP as well. China's arrest of Mr. Sodmongol and other indigenous Mongolian representatives and barring them from attending the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues not only represent a clear violation of its own laws but also pose a blatant challenge to the United Nations Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that China is bound to.



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