Sat, Nov 25, 2006 - Page 4 News List

Wife of activist lawyer beaten up by police


The wife of an outspoken Chinese lawyer arrested on subversion charges was beaten up yesterday by police, who bloodied her mouth and ripped her clothes in the scuffle, an activist said.

Geng He (耿和), the wife of Gao Zhisheng (高智晟), has been under constant police surveillance since August, when her husband was detained after he started a hunger strike, said Hu Jia (胡佳), a prominent AIDS activist who is a close friend of the couple.

Surveillance and intimidation are common for dissidents and their family members.

Hu said Geng called him after she was beaten and was crying so hard he found it difficult to understand what she was saying.

According to Geng, she was out shopping in Beijing when she told three plainclothes officers who were following her to keep their distance, Hu said.

The discussion escalated and two of the officers -- men more than 1.8m tall -- started beating her while the third, a woman, stood by and watched, he said.

"Her mouth was filled with blood, her teeth were loosened and a fingernail on her right hand was pried loose," Hu said. "The leather jacket she was wearing was so torn she took it off later because she was embarrassed to be seen wearing it."

Beijing's Public Security Bureau did not immediately respond to a faxed request for confirmation of Geng's account.

Hu said Geng is followed by at least three plainclothes officers whenever she leaves her home. For 11 days after her husband was taken from their home on Aug. 15, police stayed in the home and kept a tight watch over Geng. Their children are also followed when they go to school, Hu said.

Geng's husband, Gao, has represented clients who say their land has been seized by corrupt officials, Falun Gong followers who complain of police abuse and members of China's underground churches, groups which have not been approved to worship by the officially atheist government.

He is also known for sending open letters to Chinese leaders critical of their policies.

In February, Gao initiated a rotating hunger strike and invited people to fast for 24 to 48 hours to protest what he called widespread police brutality against Chinese lawyers and dissidents.

Gao was officially arrested last month on suspicion of "inciting subversion of state power," his lawyer has said.

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