Fri, Sep 25, 2015 - Page 6 News List

Chinese rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng tells of years of torture, imprisonment

DELAYED RELEASE:The dissident gave an interview in March, but asked that its release be delayed until he could finish two books and send them outside of China


Gao Zhisheng listens to reporters in a cave home in Shaanxi Province, China, during an interview on March 15, while sitting near photographs of his son and one of his daughters with former US president George W. Bush and Laura Bush.

Photo: AP

In his first interview in five years, leading Chinese rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng (高智晟) said he was tortured with an electric baton to his face and spent three years in solitary confinement during his latest period of detention since 2010.

The Nobel Peace Prize nominee also vowed to never leave China despite the hardships and having to live apart from his family.

For years, Gao’s supporters feared he might perish inside a remote Chinese prison. He survived his prison term. However, when he was released in August last year from prison to house arrest, the formerly outspoken lawyer could barely walk or speak a full, intelligible sentence, raising concerns that one of the most inspirational figures in China’s rights movement had been permanently broken — physically and mentally. He is now speaking out once again.

“Every time we emerge from the prison alive, it is a defeat for our opponents,” Gao said in the face-to-face interview.

Gao, who lives under near-constant guard in Shaanxi Province, gave the interview earlier this year on the condition that it not be published or aired for several months, until he could finish the manuscripts of two books and send them safely outside of China for publication, which he has now done.

He also later sent the AP his manuscripts and gave permission to quote from them.

The 51-year-old attorney gained international recognition for his courage defending Falun Gong members and fighting for the land rights of farmers.

In and out of detention since 2006, Gao upset authorities in 2010 by publicly denouncing the torture he said he had undergone.

Faxed questions to the Chinese ministries of public security, justice and foreign affairs regarding Gao’s allegations of torture and his current condition were not answered.

In this year’s interview and in one of his books, he recounts a new round of torture as well as three years in solitary confinement which he says he survived thanks only to his faith in God and his unwavering hope for China.

He also said he would not to go into exile outside China, even if that means being separated from his wife, daughter and son, who are living in the US.

“I thought about giving up and giving my time to my family, but it’s the mission God has given me” to stay in China, said Gao, a Christian.

Gao’s wife, Geng He (耿和), said in an interview in California that she does not understand why her husband was imprisoned, and why he remains under house arrest.

“I don’t understand why the government has to imprison him. He is just a lawyer. His legal profession requires him to help and serve others. Why is he being treated like this?” she said in the interview in Cupertino. “He is standing up for greater freedom in China.’’

She said in the interview on Monday that she hopes Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Barack Obama discuss her husband’s case when they meet this week.

A day later, she posted on her Twitter account a letter from her husband urging her to decline an invitation to meet with a US deputy secretary of state on Wednesday ahead of the summit.

Gao told her in the letter that such a meeting would be futile while US politicians rub shoulders with the head of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Since the administration of former US president Bill Clinton, “the American political class has disregarded the basic humanitarian principles and muddied itself by getting so close to the sinister Communist Party,” Gao wrote, according to his wife.

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