We Shall Not Keep Silent
Dear ladies and gentlemen, how are you?
I’m very grateful that Freedom House and China Aid Association are sponsoring this seminar, which gives me a chance to speak for my husband, the human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng. I’d like to take this opportunity to call on President Obama and people from all walks of life to rescue him.
Gao Zhisheng is a Chinese lawyer and he has always fought for the rights of the vulnerable social groups in China and he worked pro bono for poor people. In China, the abused party is usually the vulnerable social groups and the abusing party is usually the one with power. In this context, lawyers defending the abused party would come under huge pressures and threats from the powerful. In face of this, Gao Zhisheng not only doesn’t have any fear for the powerful, he spread righteousness and human rights by taking advantage of his capacity as a lawyer. With his familiarity in law and his eloquence, he won back the justice for the victims. As a result, he has won his reputation and the love of the people. He was even praised by the official media and won prizes.
Since 2005, Gao Zhisheng began to work in cases to defend the persecuted Christians, Falun Gong adherents and other persecuted social groups. As a result, the Chinese authorities openly attacked him and persecuted him. The government shut down his law firm and revoked his lawyer’s license. In August 2006, the police illegally kidnapped him and on December 22, 2006, they sentenced Gao Zhisheng to three years in prison with a reprieve of five years on the charge of “inciting to subvert the state power.” During the reprieve of five years, he was forced to disappear at least six times and once he was made to be missing for 20 months. Each time he went missing, he was tortured. Four days before the reprieve was due, Xinhua News Agency of the Chinese Communists reported to the foreign countries: “Gao Zhisheng will be in jail in the next three years.” At the end of 2011, they secretly transferred Lawyer Gao Zhisheng to the distant Shaya County Prison in Aksu District of Xinjiang.
As we couldn’t get the news on Gao Zhisheng, we were very worried. My family members in China made inquiries everywhere and they were rejected by the authorities who said in a lewd manner: “We don’t know. Why do you ask us?” There is a period of 10 months between the first time Gao Zhisheng was jailed in a Xinjiang prison and the second time he was jailed there. Finally, the police allowed his family member to see him. However, the police prohibit the family members to ask about his conditions during the visit. From this, we can learn even till now, Gao Zhisheng is still a political prisoner of conscience under the strict surveillance of the Chinese Communists. Therefore, the attention the international community continuously pays to Gao Zhisheng is the greatest protection he can get.
It is already seven years since Gao Zhisheng was first brutally persecuted. In the past seven years, the police have stayed at my home. They monitored me and my children and didn’t let my daughter attend schools, bringing great mental and emotional trauma to me and my children. We finally succeeded in escaping from China. The evil deeds committed by the Chinese authoritarian regime on me and my children will forever be etched in our memory. They maintain their authoritarian rule with lies and violence and the law has also become a tool with which they render out violence and tell lies. They are simply shameless.
Last year, China and the US reached an agreement on Chen Guangcheng. Right after that, the Chinese side broke the agreement and Chen Guangcheng’s nephew Chen Kegui was arrested and imprisoned. Going back on its words on such important policies shows the true feature of the Chinese Communist authoritarian government. The persecution of Gao Zhisheng, Chen Guangcheng and his family is the crime committed by the state of the Chinese Communist government. Many people see Gao Zhisheng as a hero, but I think he has only done what a lawyer should do.
I hereby hope President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry can publicly express their concerns for Gao Zhisheng. Your voice will not only bring light and encouragement to Gao Zhisheng who is now locked up in a dark prison, it will also bring light and encouragement to the Chinese people in China who long for freedom and human rights.
I also hope the Congressmen in the US, parliamentarians in Europe and government officials of all countries provide help to Gao Zhisheng in a way convenient to you. Whenever you write a letter to him, mention his name in your speeches and whenever you request for a meeting with Gao Zhisheng, they are all a great support and protection of him. Your help to Gao Zhisheng is also help to the Chinese people seeking democracy and freedom.
Finally, let me express my heartfelt gratitude to the people who appeal for Gao Zhisheng and let me thank McMillan-Scott of the European Parliament for his long-term efforts to win the release of Gao Zhisheng and to achieve progress of freedom and human rights in China. Let me also thank Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission for choosing Gao Zhisheng as the first candidate in its Defending Freedoms Project. I also thank Congressman Frank Wolf for his letter to Gao Zhisheng on New Year’s Day. It was a great consolation and encouragement to Gao Zhisheng and his family. Congressman Wolf cited these words from Martin Luther King: “In the end we will not remember the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends.” I hope at this critical juncture, the list of friends who are silent does not include President Obama or Secretary of State Kerry.
Thank you. Geng He.