My husband, Gao Zhisheng, is a lawyer in China. He represented some of the country’s most vulnerable citizens. He represented plaintiffs who lost their land to development projects like the 2008 Summer Olympics. He defended factory workers that were arrested after they demonstrated against low wages and long hours. He also represented members of Christian house churches and practitioners of the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement.
His righteous actions have brought him persecution by the Chinese authorities as lawyer Gao Zhisheng once said, ‘‘You cannot be a rights lawyer in China without becoming a rights case yourself.’’
In November 2005, the government suspended Zhisheng’s lawyer license and closed his law firm after he refused to drop his most sensitive cases. He was convicted of inciting subversion in 2006, after confessing in the face of threats against our children. Since then, our lives have been turned upside down.
The government placed our family under constant surveillance and police moved into our apartment building and followed us everywhere. The government has repeatedly abducted and tortured Gao Zhisheng — more than six times in the past few years.
In September 2007, authorities disappeared Zhisheng and held him for over 50 days after he wrote an open letter to the U.S. Congress exposing human rights abuses in China. Policemen covered his head with a black hood and took him into a room, where they stripped him naked and beat him.
The government has repeatedly abducted and tortured Gao Zhisheng — more than six times in the past few years
They used electric batons to shock him all over his body, especially his private parts, which turned his skin totally black. It was so painful that Zhisheng was rolling around on the ground. After losing consciousness from the torture, he woke up covered in urine. Later, his captors used cigarette smoke to burn his eyes so severely that he could not open them. They even stabbed his genitals
with toothpicks. Zhisheng asked them to lock him up in prison, but they refused. They said ‘‘You are simply dreaming if you want to go to prison. We can make you disappear whenever we want to.’’
That is what they have done. This torture lasted more than three days.
In order to protect our children, I escaped with them to the United States in January 2009. The next month, authorities abducted Zhisheng again. This time the government held him for over a year before he briefly reappeared the following spring.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Zhisheng described even more torture during the disappearance. Police beat him with handguns for two days and nights. He said this was the worst beating he had ever endured, that his life hung by a thread. Soon after the interview, he disappeared again.
I last spoke to Zhisheng on April 17, 2010, on the birthday of my daughter, Grace. Since then, our family has been burdened with constant uncertainty. Zhisheng’s absence has caused my daughter severe emotional anguish. She often dreams that her father is dead. My son has tears in his eyes on Father’s Day. He tells his teacher that he does not have a father. Recently, we were forced to endure rumors that the guards had tortured Zhisheng to death.
Then in December 2011, less than one week before Zhisheng’s probation was scheduled to end, Chinese authorities added to our uncertainty by claiming that he would spend the next three years in prison in Xinjiang. This news came just before the holidays.
I ask you to continue to report on this case so the truth about Zhisheng’s treatment at the hands of the Chinese Government will be known to the world
Some people have asked us if we are relieved because the government says that he is alive, but the news has not brought us any peace of mind. In fact, we are more worried than ever before.
How can we trust them? How many times have they lied to us? We do not know what to believe. We do not know if he is still in prison in Xinjiang.
This morning, Vice President Xi Jinping was meeting with President Obama and Vice President Biden. Before their meeting I requested to meet with them, but I did not get any reply. I was very disappointed. I am so grateful that the United States has provided protection to my family from the Chinese Government.
I also need to ask all of you, including President Obama, Vice President Biden, and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton to continue to call on the Government of China to respect human rights for all its citizens. Actually, I would like to request a meeting with them to tell them the story face to face.
I ask you to continue to report on this case so the truth about Zhisheng’s treatment at the hands of the Chinese Government will be known to the world, and I hope and pray that with your help my husband will regain his freedom and my family can be together once again.