Three years after prominent human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng disappeared from his cave dwelling home in the northern Chinese province of Shaanxi, his wife has called on the Chinese government to hand over his remains, as she believes he must be dead.
Gao’s wife Geng He, who escaped to the U.S. with her son and daughter in January 2009, made the statement outside the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in San Francisco on April 19.
“I underestimated the evil of the Chinese Communist Party,” Gao’s wife Geng He wrote in a statement published to her Twitter account. “I don’t have any dreams now. I only hope that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) can return Gao Zhisheng’s ashes to me for humanitarian reasons.”
She read out a statement saying that she has had no news of any kind regarding the 57-year-old Gao’s whereabouts or well-being in the three years since his last “disappearance.”
“[Gao] has been detained and persecuted by the CCP for 16 years, during which he was tortured, imprisoned in solitary confinement or subjected to several forcible disappearances,” Geng said. “He hasn’t had a single day of freedom.”
“In the past three years ago, Gao Zhisheng has disappeared from house arrest,” she said. “There have been no phone calls, no information. Nobody knows anything about him. It’s as if he evaporated.”
She said the Yulin police department in the northern province of Shaanxi had admitted to holding him at the start of this month, but denied Geng any opportunity to speak with him.
“I now have a premonition that is getting stronger and stronger, which is that Gao Zhisheng has been persecuted to death,” she said. “Otherwise, he would definitely have found a way to contact us.”
“Standing here today, I am no longer the wife of a Chinese political prisoner,” Geng said. “I have no political views.”
“I once imagined that I would return to China soon and live with him; I also imagined that after he was released from his sentence, he could come to the United States to help me share the responsibilities of the family and make up for our children’s lack of parental love,” she said.
No relative has met Gao in three years
“Maybe that was naive of me.”
“Gao Zhisheng suffered because he loved China too much,” Geng said. “It was his glory to be buried in our motherland. From this day onwards, I will treat the CCP’s Consulate, the closest one to my home, as his cemetery.”
“I will be bringing our children here to pay our respects from this day forward, at the start and middle of every month, and on the Qing Ming [grave-tending] Festival, until the day I die,” she said.
Gao, once a prominent lawyer feted by the ruling Chinese Communist Party, began to be targeted by the authorities after he defended some of China’s most vulnerable people, including Christians, coal miners, and followers of the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement.
Gao was arrested and sentenced for “inciting subversion of state power,” and was subsequently “disappeared” several times before finally being sent to serve his sentence.
Geng had earlier called on the Chinese government to allow her to go back to China and be jailed alongside him.
Geng told RFA in an interview earlier this month that none of Gao’s relatives had been allowed to meet with him in three years, with police citing coronavirus restrictions since last year.
“It’s not just that there is no news of Gao Zhisheng; the authorities’ persecution of his family has been very severe too,” she said. “The ID cards of everyone in the family have been confiscated by the authorities over the past 10 years, so that they aren’t able to leave their local area, let alone go looking for him.”
Reported by Yi Bing for RFA’s Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.
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