Release Gao Zhisheng
These remarks were given at a March 5 event on Capitol Hill on Human Rights Challenges in China. They were translated from Chinese by ChinaAid.
My husband, Gao Zhisheng, is a lawyer who has always fought for the rights of the vulnerable social groups in China including working pro bono for poor people. In China, the abused party is usually vulnerable social groups and the abusing party is usually the one with power. In this context, lawyers defending the abused party come under huge pressure and face threats from the powerful. Gao Zhisheng doesn’t fear the powerful. He spreads righteousness and human rights by taking advantage of his capacity as a lawyer. His familiarity with the law and his eloquence have allowed him to win justice for many victims. Because of his work, he has also won his reputation and the love of the people. He was even praised by the official media and has won numerous prizes.
In 2005, he began to work on cases to defend persecuted Christians, Falun Gong adherents and other persecuted social groups in China. As a result, 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 him to three years in prison and five years probation on the charge of “inciting to subvert the state’s power.” During the probation, he was disappeared at least six times and he once went missing for 20 months. Each time he went missing, he was tortured. Four days before his probation was due to end, Xinhua News Agency reported that Gao Zhisheng would “be in jail for the next three years.” At the end of 2011, they secretly transferred him to the distant Shaya County Prison in Aksu District of Xinjiang.
We were very worried as we couldn’t get news on him. My family members in China made inquiries everywhere and were rejected by the authorities who said in a rude manner: “We don’t know. Why do you ask us?” There was a period of 10 months between the first time he was jailed in a Xinjiang prison and the second time he was sent there. Finally, the police allowed his family members to see him. However, the police prohibited them from asking about his condition during the visit.
Photo Credit: Epoch Times
It has been seven years since Gao Zhisheng was first brutally persecuted. In that time, the police have stayed at my home. They have monitored me and my children and didn’t let my daughter attend school, bringing us great mental and emotional trauma. We finally succeeded in escaping from China. The evil deeds committed by the Chinese authoritarian regime will forever be etched in our memory. They maintain their authoritarian rule with lies and violence. 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 word shows the true nature of the Chinese Communist authoritarian government. The persecution of Gao Zhisheng, Chen Guangcheng and his family are terrible crimes committed by 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 hope President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry can publicly express their concern for Gao Zhisheng. Your voice will not only bring light and encouragement to him as he is locked up in a dark prison, it will also bring light and encouragement to the Chinese people who long for freedom and human rights.
A new administration of the Chinese Communists is taking power. I hope these new leaders will immediately release Gao Zhisheng and let him reunite with us in America.
I also hope that U.S. Congressmen, parliamentarians in Europe and government officials of all countries will continue to provide help to Gao Zhisheng in any way they can. Whenever you write a letter to him, mention his name in speeches or request a meeting with him, you give him great support and lend him a measure of protection.
Finally, let me express my heartfelt gratitude to the people who have appealed for Gao Zhisheng. I thank Edward McMillan-Scott of the European Parliament for his long-term efforts to win the release of Gao Zhisheng and to achieve progress for freedom and human rights in China. I would also like to thank the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission for choosing Gao Zhisheng as the first candidate in its Defending Freedoms Project and Congressman Frank Wolf for his letter to Gao Zhisheng on New Year’s Day. It was a great consolation and encouragement to him and to us, 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.
Geng He is the wife of Gao Zhisheng.
Analyses and recommendations offered by the authors do not necessarily reflect those of Freedom House.