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, January 4, 2012

"Red String": A letter from Gao's wife to Gao

Jan 4, 2012:

From left: Gao's daughter  Geng Ge, Gao's wife Geng He,
Gao Zhisheng, Gao's son Gao Tianyu.
Human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng, held incommunicado by the Chinese authorities for the past 20 months, has been sent back to jail, according to a report on December 16 by the official Xinhua News Agency. What's puzzling is that the court was quoted as saying that the decision was justified because Gao had “seriously violated probation rules” several times. It would have been quite difficult for Gao to have violated the terms of his probation as he has been under police detention for the past 20 months.

Below is a rough translation of a moving letter Geng He, Gao's wife, wrote to him on New Year's Day:


How are you?

Today is New Year’s Day. I and the children just attended the New Year’s celebration at church. The people all around us were wearing splendid holiday attire and holding each other’s hands as they sang hymns, their faces beaming with the festive holiday spirit. During the intermission, everyone was smiling and talking, and expressing regards to one another, while children ran after one another. Every corner of the church was full of the happy voices of the adults and the children’s laughing and playing. However, I was absent-minded, unable to blend in with everyone’s happiness. Yesterday, I got the news from your elder brother that you have been sent to a prison in a remote part of Xinjiang, and my heart was heavy with sadness.

During these past 20 months, we have been on tenterhooks, running everywhere to get news about you. But there has been no news at all. During my search for you, I often had a fantasy that as soon as I had word about you, I could relax my heart, and that I would be able to peacefully play and study with the children.

However, after I got the news about you yesterday, I could not relax my heart, which was like a twisted piece of dough. They originally gave you an illegal “three year sentence that was suspended for five years,” but during these past five years, you have always been in their hands, and in the end they said you violated your probation. Why did they do this? Why?

Right now I want to break through all the barriers to be by your side, I really want to rent an apartment next to your prison and live there, so that each month I can visit you right on time. However, because of our children, I cannot realize all of my aspirations.

My mother and father have lived in Xinjiang for 46 years, and I never heard of this place called Shaxian. It’s too remote and no one knows about it or cares about it. Now, this small town at the end of the earth has has actually become the place of our greatest concern, a place we yearn for. Our whole family has begun to carefully search for any scrap of information about this desert town, hoping to learn everything about this place.

Tianyu’s English is quite good; I teach him Chinese at home. After class he learns swimming, ice skating and other extracurricular activities. He likes to study and has a deep interest in science and technology, the universe and math. On Saturdays, I take him to the Aerospace Museum, all sorts of science and technology museums and the library.

I often say to him: “Mama is very grateful to you, because your interests and hobbies have forced me to take you to the places you want to go to, making me a better and better driver. He replied; “That’s right! In the beginning, you drove on small roads, but now you drive on the highways, and you’re even able to drive in front of the eyes of the police.” What he’s saying is that I’m no longer afraid of the police. Before, I would get nervous when I saw police, because while I was in China, I was often bullied by the police, which left me paranoid.

Gege is already accustomed to her life and studies here. Her grades are all As, but she has to work a bit harder on her spoken English. This year she will attend university, and she has already applied to several schools. In her own words: “The schools I’m applying to, will give you and Baba face.” Gege has also gotten her driver’s license.

Tianyu once woke up in the middle of a dream, and said to me crying: “Mama, Baba didn’t hold my hand, and I lost him.”  I repeated these words over and over again to myself.

Do you still remember what Tianyu said when he was three? “I have a red string in my heart, and no matter where Baba goes, the red string will be tied to him.”

Each one of us has a red string connected to you, no matter where you go. Even if you go to the ends of the earth, we will remain connected to you. This time we will hold your hand tightly, and we won’t lose you, or break contact.

I’ll write letters to you often, and I look forward to receiving your letters. I’ll send you photos of the children.
Hope you’re well.

Geng He
January 1, 2012

Original Chinese Version



今天是元旦,我正和孩子参加教堂的新年祝福。周围的人们都穿着节日的盛装,手拉着手唱圣歌,欢乐的节日气氛洋溢在人们的脸上。休息时,人们互相谈笑 着,问候着,孩子们相互追逐着,大人们的欢乐声和孩子们的嬉戏声充满了教堂的每个角落。可是,我却感觉恍惚,不能融在这欢乐之中。昨天我从大哥那里得到你 被关进新疆边远监狱的消息,心情沉重得像吊了铅块。

近20个月来,我们一直提心吊胆地到处打听你的消息,可一直杳无音讯。在寻找你的过程中,我常常幻想,一旦有了你的消息,我的心就能放下,就能平静 地和孩子一起游玩和学习。可昨天得到你的消息后,我的心不仅不能放下,还拧成麻花。当初他们非法对你“判三年缓五年”,可这五年你一直在他们的手心里,到 头来他们倒说你违反了规定,这是为什么!为什么呀!!



天昱的英语很好,中文我在家教,课后学了游泳、滑冰等兴趣班。他喜欢读书,还对科技、宇宙及数字兴趣浓厚。周六带他去航天馆和各种科技馆及图书 馆。 我常对他说:“妈妈非常感谢你,是你的兴趣,爱好,促使着妈妈带你到你想去的地方,让妈妈的车开得越来越好。”他说:“是呀!刚开始在小路上开,现 在在高速上开,到时就可以在警察眼前开。”他的意思是,我现在不怕警察了。以前我见了警察就紧张,是因为在国内常被警察欺负而留下的后遗症。



我们心里都有一根红线连着你,不管你到哪里,就是海角天涯,我们也要和你相连。这次我们可要紧紧抓住你的手,不要丢了你,断了联系。 我会经常给你写信,也盼望收能收到你的来信,给你寄去孩子的照片。