About Gao Zhisheng

Gao Zhisheng is one of the most unyielding and iconic advocates for justice in China having been nominated twice for the Nobel Peace Prize (2008 and 2010). In response to Gao's legal defense of human rights activists and religious minorities and his documentation of human rights abuses in China, Gao has been disbarred, and harassed, imprisoned and tortured numerous times.

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Probation period of “disappeared” Lawyer Gao Zhisheng will end soon. Family pleads for his freedom.

An interview by Zhang Min, hostess of the Radio Free Asia talk show “Journey of the Soul,” July 16, 2011.

Translated by China Aid Association

(Gao Zhisheng briefly reappeared in April 2010. This Associated Press photo was taken during an interview with an AP reporter about his time in police custody.)

*The probation period of “disappeared” Lawyer Gao Zhisheng’s sentence will soon end. His family and those who have been watching the case are taking a wait-and-see attitude about whether he will regain his freedom.*

August 14 is the final day of the five-year probation period that “disappeared” Chinese human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng was sentenced to. That day is less than a month away.  Exactly where is Lawyer Gao Zhisheng? Can he regain his freedom on August 14?  His family and people all over the world have been watching this case are taking a wait-and-see attitude with regard to these questions.

Gao Zhisheng’s wife Ms. Geng He, who fled China more than two years ago with her son and daughter and is now living in the United States, said, “Gao Zhisheng was illegally arrested by the Chinese Communists on August 15, 2006 and was sentenced to three years in prison with five years probation.  August 14 this year should be the day he regains his freedom as that is the final day of his probation.  Probation is supposed to be served at home.  Yet, not only is he not at home, none of his family members knows where he is.”

*Brief introduction to Lawyer Gao Zhisheng and his case*

From December 2004 to December 2005, Gao Zhisheng, the human rights lawyer who had served as a defense counsel in cases including those involving Falun Gong practitioners and [local people trying to protect their interest in] oil fields in northern Shaanxi province, wrote three open letters to the highest-ranking leaders of China, demanding that they stop persecuting Falun Gong adherents.

In November 2005, the Shengzhi Law Firm of Beijing, of which he was the director, was shut down by the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Justice.  On December 22, 2006, Lawyer Gao Zhisheng was convicted of “inciting subversion of state power” and sentenced to three years in prison, placed on probation for five years probation, and deprived of political rights for one year.  He was sent back home.  In September 2007, Gao Zhisheng was once again taken into custody.  After his release, his article “Dark Night, Dark Hood and Kidnapping by Dark Mafia” was disseminated.  In it, he describes the tortures he was subjected to during his detention, including the insertion of toothpicks into his genitals.

Gao Zhisheng won the American Board of Trial Advocates’ Courageous Advocacy Award as well as other human rights awards. 

Before dawn on February 4, 2009, Gao Zhisheng was kidnapped by the police right in front of his relatives from his hometown in northern Shaanxi province.

In early 2009, Gao Zhisheng’s wife and his children fled China. They arrived in the United Sates in March and later were granted political asylum.

After Gao Zhisheng was kidnapped by police from his hometown, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, the police and other sources gave many conflicting reports regarding his whereabouts.  Up until March 27, 2010, no one on the outside could get any accurate information about him.

On March 28, 2010, Gao Zhisheng’s phone number suddenly showed up on the Internet and people on the outside could now call Lawyer Gao Zhisheng.  Ten days later when people called the number again, it was disconnected, and has remained so ever since.

*Geng He: Gao Zhiyi called to make inquiries and the Domestic Security Protection Department said they had “lost” Gao Zhisheng again; the whole family awaits a call from Gao.*

I asked Ms. Geng He: “Has anyone in the family back in China made inquiries recently or looked for him?”
Geng He: “His eldest brother called a person surnamed Sun in Beijing (at the Domestic Security Protection Department).  He (Sun) said:  ‘We don’t know, we’ve lost him.  Don’t call me again.’  Calls to his brother’s home don’t go through.  Either nobody answers or there’s a recorded message saying, ‘This number is not a working number.’  This is not normal because this is a home landline number.  Three or four months ago, I said to him: ‘Eldest brother, we can’t get through to you on this number.  You should stop paying for it. It’s okay to disconnect it.”  But his eldest brother said: ‘We can’t disconnect it.  This is the only number for Runhui (Gao Zhisheng’s nickname) to call us when he comes back home.  What if he calls….’  He’s thinking what if he [Gao] has a moment’s freedom and could call them.  We’re all just waiting for a phone call.

“Whenever Gao Zhisheng’s older sister sees a caller ID that she doesn’t recognize, she always gets excited and asks herself, ‘Could this be my Third Brother?’  I once called her on the phone and the call was disconnected before I heard anyone’s voice.  I called again but couldn’t get through.  She wound up waiting the whole night.”
*Geng He: Gao Zhiyi wrote a “missing person” ad and asked me to post it on the Internet.*

Hostess: “When was the last time anyone had any information of Gao Zhisheng?”

Geng He: “Speaking for myself, the last time I was in contact with him was April 15 or 16, because of the time difference with China.  We were planning to celebrate our daughter Gege’s birthday on April 17 and we began looking for her father.  We couldn’t find him and we couldn’t get through on his number.  And that’s how it’s been ever since.  His eldest brother told me on the phone that Domestic Security Protection told him they’ve ‘lost him,’ so his eldest brother has written a ‘missing person’ ad.  He wants me to post it on the Internet.  I have it here.”

Hostess: “How is it written?”

Geng He: “Let me read it for you: ‘Missing Person: Gao Zhisheng, 49, male, Han ethnicity, 1.80 meters tall, Beijing resident.  In the second month of 2010 of the lunar calendar, he went to his hometown for the Qingming Festival to visit his mother’s grave.  On the way, he was accompanied by several plainclothes police.  Afterwards, he returned to Beijing.  About 10 days later, we talked on the phone.  To date, it’s been more than a year.  There hasn’t been a scrap of news.  The whole family is extremely worried.

‘In the past year or so, I have made several calls to Section Chief Sun of the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau.  He said he had lost him.  On September 13 last year, I went again to inquire at the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau’s Petition Office and they told me they didn’t know anything.  As an ordinary citizen, there is little I can do.  If anyone has any information, please let us know. We will be very grateful.  Contact person: Gao Zhiyi, cell phone number -- 15191985726.’

The date that I received this e-mail was June 6.  One of his relatives sent it to my mailbox.

*Gao Zhiyi: I remember Gao Zhisheng came home at the Qingming Festival last year for two, three days of grave sweeping.  A few days after he left, we lost contact with him and he is still missing.*

On July 11, I interviewed Mr. Gao Zhiyi at his home in northern Shaanxi province.

Hostess: “May I ask you what made you write that ad for a missing person?”

Gao Zhiyi: “It’s been more than a year with no news of him.  I asked them several times and they told me they didn’t know anything.  I wrote it out of desperation.”

Hostess: “How many times did you ask the people involved in this case?”

Gao Zhiyi: “In the ninth month of the lunar calendar last year, I went to the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau’s Petition Office.  They told me they didn’t know anything.  I called Section Chief Sun several times and he told me they had lost him. I said: ‘How could you have possibly lost him when he was in your custody?’  He said: ‘Even if your brother was with me, he can still be lost while in their custody.’ At the Qingming Festival last year, he came back home.  It’s now been more than a year with no news of him whatsoever.  They are closemouthed about this.  When I called him again, he wouldn’t take my calls.”

Hostess: “When I called the number of this Section Chief Sun from America, the operator in China said: ‘The number you have dialed is not a working number.’”

I asked Mr. Gao Zhiyi: “What did Lawyer Gao Zhisheng do when he returned to his hometown for the Qingming Festival last year?”

Gao Zhiyi:  “He stayed only for two or three days.  What could he do?  He was being followed.”

Hostess: “How many people were tailing him?”

Gao Zhiyi:  “One came into the house.  Four vehicles came from Yulin.  After that, there was no news of him whatsoever.”

Hostess: “Was he allowed to stay at home?  How was his health? Any wounds?”

Gao Zhiyi:  “Yes, [he was allowed to stay at home].  Judging from his condition at the time, he must have suffered injuries in prison. He was tortured like that.  He was coughing, they must have hurt him somehow in his lungs.  His coughing was not normal coughing.  I’m almost 60 years old, I can sense it.”

Hostess: “How many nights did he stay at home?”

Gao Zhiyi: “It was either two nights or three nights.  Qingming Festival is the traditional day for people to offer sacrifices to the ancestors.  Our big family of 20 to 30 people went together to the grave.”

Hostess: “After that, when did you stop getting information from him?”

Gao Zhiyi:  “After he left, that is to say, about a week to 10 days later.  He called us once from Beijing.  After that, nothing.”

*Gao Zhiyi: I wanted to go to Beijing during this year’s legislative sessions, but the police wouldn’t let me.  They said they would give me news in a few days, but in the end, they gave me nothing. *
Hostess: “Before Lawyer Gao returned to his hometown this last time, you had contacted Beijing and the police said he was lost.  You just said that they said they had lost him.  Was it after he returned home this time that the police said again that he was lost?”

Gao Zhiyi: “Yes, after he came back, I contacted Section Chief Sun and that’s what he said.”
Hostess: “When was the last time you inquired about Lawyer Gao?”

Gao Zhiyi: “Last year, in the ninth month of the lunar calendar, I went to Beijing and went to the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau’s Petition Office.  I don’t know if they were officers or soldiers, in any case, they were the ones on duty.  They said they didn’t know anything, that there was nothing they could do.  They said his case was a special case and they couldn’t talk to me.  So, I had no choice but to come back [home].  I am the only one in the family who has gone looking for him.  No one else has.

“This year, when the two legislative sessions [National People’s Congress and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference] were meeting in March, I was planning to go [to Beijing]. But a call came from Beijing to Yulin, and then the Yulin Municipal Public Security Bureau called me and told me not to go.  [They said] the next day or the day after that ... in a few days, we’ll call you back.  Ai-yah, we are just ordinary citizens, what can we do except obey the government?  The whole problem is this society.  There’s nothing we can do.  If they say ‘jump,’ I jump.  So I didn’t go.  When the legislative sessions ended, I contacted them again but they were closemouthed.”

Hostess: “So they said they’d give you an answer in a few days, but in the end, they gave you nothing, right?”

Gao Zhiyi: “Yes, that is what I mean.”

*Gao Zhiyi: If by the end of the probation period they still haven’t given me an explanation, that’s totally unacceptable.  The authorities have to give some kind of explanation.*

Hostess: “It is now already mid-July.  Lawyer Gao’s five-year probation period ends on Aug. 14.  How do you feel?”

Gao Zhiyi: “How do you think I feel?  Even if he were sentenced to life in prison, the family should have the right to visit him in the prison and should know how he is doing.  And probation is supposed to be served at home.  Yet, they won’t give us any scrap of information about him.  And what can you do?”

Hostess: “Are you able to communicate normally?”

Gao Zhiyi: “I have disconnected my landline phone.  It had stopped working altogether.  All we were doing was paying for something that we couldn’t use.  We had no other choice.  I keep my cell phone on 24 hours a day.  If things go wrong, my cell phone might end up like my landline phone (non-functional).  Under normal circumstances, this sort of thing wouldn’t happen.  What can we ordinary citizens do?”

Hostess: “It’s been so many years.  Is there anything else you would like to say about Lawyer Gao’s case and how it has affected your personal life, your emotions, your family?”

Gao Zhiyi: “When I’m working, I work very hard.  It’s only at night when I lie down to sleep … whenever it is quiet, then my mind is full of thoughts of him.

“When I’m watching TV, my mind is full of him: is he still on this earth? … I’ve thought about all the possibilities.  How could I not?  I’ve told you more than once or twice, when our father died, he was only 11.  In the 1970s, life was hard and we all got through by sticking together through thick and thin.  So how can I not think of him?  A person suddenly evaporates from the face of the earth, can you not think about him?  Things couldn’t be any worse.  There’s nothing I can do, especially during this time.”

Hostess:  “When that day comes, how do you plan to wait for Lawyer Gao?”

Gao Zhiyi: “My initial plan is go to Beijing.  But in any case, I can’t make a final decision right now.  I’ve taken everything into consideration.  I think I will contact them a few days beforehand and see if they can give me an explanation.”

*Geng He: The authorities warned Gao Zhisheng’s sister that her children’s jobs would be threatened if she left home to look for Gao Zhisheng.*
During my interview with Ms. Geng He, I asked if Lawyer Gao Zhisheng’s older sister had tried to look for Gao Zhisheng.

Geng He: “His older sister has not dared to look for him because the authorities have already warned her: ‘You must not leave this place.  If you do leave, it will affect your children’s jobs.’ That’s because her husband died many years ago and the two girls are too inexperienced to fend for themselves.  Not getting any news of her brother is even more of a mental and physical torture for her.”

*Gao Zhisheng’s older sister: We hope we to get news of him soon.  When the time comes (the end of the probation period), they should release him.*

I interviewed Lawyer Gao Zhisheng’s older sister who lives in Shandong: “Have you had any news of Lawyer Gao?”

Gao’s sister: “No.  We haven’t had any news of him whatsoever.”

Hostess: “Up to now, when was the last time you heard any news of Lawyer Gao?”

Gao’s sister: “It was April 2010, that was the Qingming Festival.  We talked twice on the phone.  After that, the calls wouldn’t go through.”

Hostess: “What did you talk about?”

Gao’s sister: “We greeted each other, then didn’t say much.”

Hostess: “What did Lawyer Gao say when you were talking, did he say where he was, when he could contact you again? What else did he say?”

Gao’s sister: “He said he went to Xinjiang to his father-in-law’s, and then there was no news at all.  He did go to Xinjiang and he never phoned us again.  Later I called his father-in-law and his father-in-law said he was tailed when he was in Xinjiang, he said there were three people, probably from Beijing.  In Xinjiang, he didn’t stay at his father-in-law’s, he stayed at a guest house.”

Hostess: “In a month, Lawyer Gao’s probation period will end.  There has been no news of him for over a year.  How are you feeling now?”

Gao’s sister: “Ai-yah, what am I feeling….  When a loved one is missing, of course a person is going to feel bad and be worried.  But what’s the use of worrying?  There’s nothing I can do.  Now that the time (for the end of the probation period) has come, they should release him.  No matter what, they should let us visit him in person.  Now we can’t even visit him.  When you ask them, it’s clear Gao Zhisheng is in their custody, but they say they don’t know.  We think my younger brother must be in the hands of the government.  He is a human being, and it’s been so long.  As family members, there’s nothing we can do but worry and hope to get some news as soon as possible.  Even if the authorities have done something serious to him, they should let us know.”

Hostess: “Are there any pressures on you?”

Gao’s sister: “It seems not this year.  Last year, whenever there was a holiday, they called me to see if I was at home.  They were afraid I might have gone out looking for my brother.”

*Geng He: I hope the international community can help bring Gao Zhisheng home soon.*
Geng He said: “According to the Chinese Communists’ own law, August 14 is the date when Gao Zhisheng will have finished serving his sentence and that is the date when he should finally come home.  The entire family is waiting for this day.  Everyone who has been following this case and been concerned about Gao Zhisheng is fixed on this day.  The ‘missing person’ ad written by his eldest brother expresses the family’s hopes, because the family has run out of any other options.  Oh, the bitterness in looking for him!  There’s nothing we can do.  Ordinary people can only express their feelings in this way.

“Through an attorney, I have also told some U.S. members of Congress about this situation.  A year and three months have gone by with no news of him whatsoever.  According to the Chinese Communists’ own law, on August 14 this year, they should let him come home and let him regain his freedom.  I have also written letters to members of the European Parliament.  Whether Gao Zhisheng can regain his freedom and whether he can come home will depend on the pressure exerted by the rest of the world.  I hope they can help in getting Gao Zhisheng home soon and on schedule.”

*Geng He:  Since the state doesn’t seem to want him, the family needs him and the children need him, so I hope they can allow us to be reunited.*

Hostess: “How is your family in China?”

Geng He:  “My father is almost 80 now.  Near my house is Hongguang Mountain.  Every morning when he gets up, my father goes to Hongguang Mountain to burn incense and kowtow, praying for Gao Zhisheng’s safety.  That’s the only way he can feel at peace for the day.  I can’t get through to the Xinjiang phone numbers using Internet phone.  Using a phone card (which doesn’t show the caller’s number), I can sometimes get through.  My mother is a little muddle-headed now so I don’t call very often.”

Hostess: “How is life for you and your children here?”

Geng He: “The children and I are fine now.  The date is drawing nearer and nearer.  I want this day to come soon.  My son often asks me….  On Father’s Day, my son said to me ‘Mom, it’s Father’s Day today and I want to call my dad.’  That was when there was flooding in Beijing.  I said: ‘You see.  There’s flooding everywhere in Beijing and you can’t get in touch with your dad.’  He said: ‘Okay. Then, can I call dad on my birthday?’  My son’s birthday is August 27.  I said: ‘Okay, I don’t think there should be any problems.’  [Our daughter] Gege is doing okay in school now.  She’s gotten used to everything.  With regard to Gao Zhisheng’s ordeal of these past several years, he has ‘been disappeared’ no less than six times and each time he was tortured.

“He is such a good man and such a good lawyer.  Society needs people like him.  Yet, he is attacked and persecuted in China.  Since it appears that the Chinese Communists have no use for him and the state has no need of him, our family needs him and my children need him.  I hope we can be allowed to be reunited.  A father is very important when children are growing up.  I hope we can be reunited as a family.”

*Geng He: My son said, “My good father, I’ve forgotten what you look like.” I hope Gao Zhisheng can wish his son a happy birthday.*
Geng He said this is her greatest wish right now: “One month from now is our son Tianyu’s 8th birthday.  I really want to hear Gao Zhisheng wish his child a happy birthday, and I really want to hear his humorous and confident voice, because that would be a comfort to me and Gege.  Right now, everyone in the family, my parents and all the family members are all waiting for that day.

“I have a pile of papers here in front of me.  My son likes to go through them aimlessly. [Once] he came upon a photo of his father and buried his face in it saying, ‘Ai-yah, my good father, I’ve forgotten what you like!’

“Oh, the feelings, I didn’t dare say anything, if I said anything what kind of answer could I give the child?  In fact, in front of the child, I have avoided answering his questions about his father.  With science so developed and telecommunication so advanced, the distance between people is becoming shorter and shorter and the earth is becoming smaller and smaller.  Yet, ironically, for us to make a phone call is so difficult, and we are so far away.”

*Geng He recalls the escalating pressures and Gao Zhisheng’s attitude in 2004 after his involvement in the northern Shaanxi oil fields case and rights defense for Falun Gong practitioners.*
Ms. Geng He, who hopes Lawyer Gao Zhisheng can come back soon to be reunited with his family, recalled Lawyer Gao’s experiences of recent years ---

Geng He: “The reason Gao Zhisheng chose to become a lawyer was because he always had a wish, and that was to use the law to be a channel of fairness, justice and a voice of conscience.”

Hostess: “When did he formally become a lawyer?”

Geng He: “It was in 1996, in October, I think.  He started out in Xinjiang.  I remember the first case he got when he started practicing was a medical malpractice case, a pro bonocase…  Gao Zhisheng was very serious about every case he took:  criminal cases, contract cases, and individual cases that developed into class action suits.  The domestic media at the time reported a lot of the cases in which he was involved.  Finally, it was because he got involved in cases of rights defense, such as forced demolitions and evictions, religious persecution, the case of northern Shaanxi oil fields, and so forth that the government interfered and sought him out for ‘talks.’  As a lawyer, he stood firmly on the side of his clients, even if they were poor people getting pro bono help.  He never stopped providing assistance to the poor.”

Hostess: “When did the pressure start?”

Geng He: “The pressure started in 2004.  He took on the Cai Zhuohua case [in which the Christian Cai Zhuohua was sentenced to three years labor camp for warehousing tens of thousands of Chinese Bibles and books].  After that, it was the northern Shaanxi oil fields case; he spent more than a month investigating that.  At the time, I was on duty at the office (Geng He was employed at the law office).  The Justice Bureau kept calling and calling and asking, ‘When will Gao Zhisheng come back?  When he comes back, he has to come to the Justice Bureau.’  

During this period, they often came to our law office – today it’s a tax audit, tomorrow it’s a lawyer inspection.  During that time, we felt obvious pressure.  We also came under the pressure in the cases of forced demolition and eviction as well as in petition cases, cases of persecution of Falun Gong practitioners and Christians, …”

Hostess: “When did the pressure intensify?”

Geng He:  “In August and September of 2005.  People from the Justice Bureau kept coming to our law firm, doing inspections.  At the time, Gao Zhisheng was in that oil field in northern Shaanxi.  In September, they suspended our business for rectification.  Later, they issued a formal ‘Business Suspended for Rectification’ notice.

“In 2005, an incredible number of people came to him for asking him to take on their cases.  They were ones that local lawyers refused to take and that couldn’t be handled through normal legal procedures.  I remember one was a petitioner’s case that had dragged on for more than 10 years without result.  Those people said: ‘We don’t want to live anymore.  We are going to kill ourselves.’  Gao Zhisheng said to them: ‘Come see me and let me review your cases.  Though I can’t give you much substantial help, I’ll go through the entire appeals process with you. There is no time limit to appeal.’

“When I asked Gao Zhisheng why, he said: ‘It’s hard enough for the litigants.  Over such a long period of time, they lost in the trial of first instance and the trial of second instance.  When they come to me, I should give them some hope and not let them give up on themselves.  That wouldn’t be safe for society either.’”

Hostess: “Later, when the pressure really became intense, what was Gao Zhisheng attitude?”

Geng He:  “In 2005, when the Justice Bureau issued the order suspending our business for rectification, I immediately wrote statements for all our lawyers saying they were free to leave our law office and that they were in no way connected with the law office financially.  This way, they could go work in other law offices.  If I had been a little slower in these actions, and if the Justice Bureau had taken away our company chop and financial chop, they would not have been able to leave.

“During this time, Gao Zhisheng was at home every day writing articles and receiving [government] petitioners and people whose houses had been demolished and who had been relocated.  He helped them put their documents in order, and when the time was right, he would publicize their case.

“In May and June 2006, his brother-in-law (his sister’s husband) was sick and in critical condition.  He thought, ‘The law office is shut down anyway.’  He figured it didn’t matter where he did his writing, so he went to Shandong to take care of his sister and his brother-in-law.  After he went to Shandong, I wasn’t involved with what he was doing there.”

*Geng He: So sad – I’d always wanted to listen to Gao Zhisheng as defense counsel.  I never imagined that the first time I entered a courtroom, it was to hear his sentencing. *

Hostess: “Later we learned that Lawyer Gao Zhisheng was kidnapped from his sister’s home in Shandong and disappeared.  He was arrested later and sentenced.  Is there anything in this process that is worth recalling?”

Geng He: “Talking about this, I feel so sad…  Every time one of Gao Zhisheng’s cases went to trial, he would tell me what kind of defense he gave, how he brought his skills into full play.  He was always talking like this, so I would joke with him, saying: ‘Okay, since I was not there, you are free to brag any way you like.’  After that, he stopped telling me.  Then it was from his assistant that I heard about the spectacular defenses Gao Zhisheng gave in every case.  So I said to him: ‘Gao Zhisheng, I’d like to go to the court with you once.’  Gao Zhisheng said: ‘No problem.  I’ll bring you to court with me for the next trial.’  I thought that since that was his profession, there was a lot of time, so I didn’t bring it up.  I thought I had plenty of opportunities.

“What’s so sad is, when the opportunity came and I went into the courtroom for the first time, it was to hear him being sentenced.  He is such a stellar person, such an outstanding man.  I had been eagerly anticipating listening to him giving an excellent defense.  Yet what I heard in the courtroom was his sentence.  They cut short his career much too early.”

*Geng He: They revoked human right lawyer Gao Zhisheng’s license, shut down his law firm, sentenced him, tortured him, put his family under surveillance and finally barred our daughter from school.*
Ms. Geng He continued to recall some of the things that happened later: “Following the sentencing, he came back home in late December 2006.  As soon as he entered the house, Gao Zhisheng said: ‘The entire family must leave Beijing.’  ‘Why?’ I asked.  My understanding was that the authorities were afraid people might come to our house and if too many people came, that would be too much pressure on them.  The next day, he said that if the entire family left Beijing together, it would attract too much attention.  So he would leave first.  Then, he left.  That was in late December.  He went back to Shandong and wandered all over the place, and they followed him the whole time.

“He didn’t come back until February or March of the following year.  The local police came knocking on my door all the time to see if he was there.  People like that person surnamed Sun from the Domestic Security Protection Department of the Beijing Public Security Bureau also came knocking on my door to talk with him.

“A major incidence of persecution occurred in 2007.  It was because of two articles he wrote.  I think they were articles on the Olympic Games.  He never talked to me about those articles.  I only know that on that night, he said: ‘They want me to go out with them.’  I said: ‘Then go with them.’  He’d no sooner stepped foot out the door when some Domestic Security Protection officers came to me and said: ‘Let’s go to the local police station,’ so I went.

“When we got there, they said, ‘Look at these articles written by Gao Zhisheng.  Do you know about them?’  I glanced at them and saw they were about the Olympic Games.  I said, ‘I didn’t know he wrote these.’  He said, ‘You haven’t fulfilled your responsibility as his guardian.  We’ll educate him for two days.’  And so they took him away.  After some 50 days of suffering, he came back.  Very slowly, I learned that he’d been tortured.

“I said, ‘Why don’t you write it down?’  He said, ‘I will never forget this.  I’ll remember it in my bones.’  Gao Zhisheng is a human rights lawyer.  Money and power hold no allure for him, and darkness and power cannot break him.  He regards the practice of law as more than just a career, it is the way he spreads fairness, justice and a voice of conscience.  It’s this kind of excellent lawyer that people need, and the government goes and suspends his license, shuts down his law office, puts our family under surveillance and even stops our daughter from going to school.”

*Geng He:  Reading Gao Zhisheng’s articles and watching his videos, steeped in the pain of missing him and sharing his suffering are also an enjoyment.*

Geng He talked about how she misses Lawyer Gao and her feelings for him.  She said: “During the day with my children, I have to put on a smiling, happy face and rally up my spirits.  Until the children are asleep, then, ai-yah…  I sit at the computer and read Lawyer Gao’s articles, all these things.  He never told me what he was doing and what he was writing.  I didn’t know any of this.  Reading Gao Zhisheng’s articles, watching videos of him on the Internet, listening to his confident talk, to his humorous analogies, I feel safe and at ease.

“Then I see his twisted face, ai-yah… I get a pain that goes straight to the marrow.  But even this, I feel… I’d rather be steeped in such a pain.  I feel that even the pain of missing a loved one is a kind of enjoyment.  Such pain is a kind of enjoyment to me.”

Hostess: “How is this an enjoyment?  Let us share a bit of how you feel.”

Geng He: “It’s just that I feel I can share in his sufferings.  I’m willing to share in his sufferings.  The torture he suffered, it’s as though it was inflicted on me, too.  I feel that Gao Zhisheng and I have shared a life together for so long, he and I are as one.  Whatever he feels over there, I also feel it here.  So his suffering, the torture inflicted on him, it’s like it is happening to me.  I’m willing, so long as we can be together and I can share in his sufferings.  I really hope it can be this way.”

*Geng He: Gao Zhisheng’s case is not an isolated one.  China’s many bloody stories reveal the problems common in the legal system.*

Geng He said: “In fact, Gao Zhisheng’s case is not an isolated case in China.  I’m thinking of Chen Guangcheng, Hu Jia, Guo Feixiong, Xu Wanping, Yang Tianshui, Guo Quan, Ai Weiwei, … many other bloody stories.  They are the result of abuse by the tyrants in China.  All the bloody stories of these families and individuals reveal problems that are common throughout the legal system.

“Really, I don’t want to dwell on the past at all.  All I want to get some news of Gao Zhisheng on August 14.  First of all, let this weary family rest for a few days.  Now, I think only of the future and the future only, how he will come back, how to gradually restore him to health.  Right now, I’m only looking forward to the future.”

*Pastor Bob Fu: More than 100,000 people from more than a hundred countries, including government officials from the West and NGOs, are calling for Lawyer Gao Zhisheng’s freedom.*

China Aid Association president Pastor Bob Fu, who has long been concerned about Lawyer Gao Zhisheng and his family, said: “China Aid Association has watching [this case] closely and been concerned about Gao Zhisheng from the start and eagerly looks forward to seeing him regain full freedom.

“The case of Lawyer Gao Zhisheng, a law-abiding Chinese citizen and a lawyer who safeguards the dignity of law, the entire way it was handled, the fact that it was handled in such an illegal way, and just the fact of Gao Zhisheng’s ordeal show how the entire legal system has become blackened and mafia-like, backward to the extreme… this is an obvious epitome.

“We have also launched a ‘Free Gao’ campaign (  To date, more than 100,000 people from more than a hundred countries all over the world have signed the petition.  More than 100,000 people have been watching this [case] and conscientious government officials in the West, including those in Eastern Europe as well as some NGOs, have been appealing without break for Lawyer Gao’s freedom.”

Zhang Min is the interviewer, editor and producer of the Radio Free Asia talk show “Journey of the Soul” in Washington D.C.