Smuggled Book Leads to New Ordeal for Chinese Rights Lawyer Gao Zhisheng

Leo Timm
By Leo Timm
November 16, 2016News
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Smuggled Book Leads to New Ordeal for Chinese Rights Lawyer Gao Zhisheng
Copies of a book by renowned human rights lawyer in China, Gao Zhisheng, "A Human Rights Lawyer under Torture the auto narratives of Gao Zhisheng", are displayed during a press conference held by his daughter Grace Geng and local lawmaker Albert Ho at the Legislative Council Complex in Hong Kong on June 14, 2016. A leading dissident lawyer in China is prepared to face the consequences over his new book predicting the possible collapse of the ruling Communist Party, his tearful daughter said June 14. Gao Zhisheng has been under house arrest since 2014 after serving a three-year prison term on subversion-related charges -- a sentence which sparked an international outcry. / AFP / ANTHONY WALLACE (Photo credit should read ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP/Getty Images)

The family of Gao Zhisheng, the Chinese lawyer renowned for his human rights work in the 2000s, has again lost contact with their heavily-surveilled relative.

Once named one of China’s top ten lawyers, Gao fell into disfavor for his ardent defense of  Falun Gong, the adherents of which are among the Communist Party’s most brutalized victims. Gao was stripped of his right to practice law and was detained for years, during which he suffered some of the same tortures endured by his clients.

Gao is a military veteran and a devout Christian from a poor family in Shaanxi Province. Aside from defending the banned Falun Gong spiritual practice, he has represented disenfranchised petitioners and house Christians.

According to Gao’s wife Geng He, the Chinese authorities sent police to his remote residence in Shaanxi when they heard that he recently received the published edition of his painstakingly written new book.

“Police officers came all the way from Beijing to northern Shaanxi and destroyed the book that [Gao’s] friends living abroad mailed to his friends in China and were to give to him,” Geng said in an interview.

Entitled “Stand Up China 2017 – China’s Hope: What I Learned During Five Years as a Political Prisoner,” Gao’s latest volume began as a secretly composed manuscript that he managed to smuggle out of China despite living under house arrest.

Grace Geng, the daughter of one of China’s most prominent human rights lawyers Gao Zhisheng, presents a book authored by her father at a news conference in Hong Kong, Tuesday, June 14, 2016. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
Grace Geng, the daughter of one of China’s most prominent human rights lawyers Gao Zhisheng, presents a book authored by her father at a news conference in Hong Kong, Tuesday, June 14, 2016. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

His family, living in the U.S., arranged for the work’s publication upon receiving the text earlier this year. Now Geng He will make it available free of charge.

“What are they [the Communist Party] afraid of?” she said. “Are they afraid of a book? Fine, I’ll make it a free publication, everyone can download it as they please.”

“Stand Up China 2017” details the ten years of harassment and imprisonment that Gao Zhisheng underwent at the hands of the Chinese authorities, as well as revelations based on his Christian faith. He believes that the communist regime will not last beyond next year.

Penned With Blood and Tears

For tens of millions of Chinese, the qigong exercises and moral teachings of Falun Gong were a normal part of everyday life—until in 1999 the Communist Party under then-leader Jiang Zemin launched a violent campaign to destroy it.

While the persecution had no legal grounding whatsoever, Falun Gong practitioners received little help from China’s lawyers as they faced the state’s onslaught in the early 2000s.

Gao Zhisheng, moved and outraged by the harrowing torture the men and women who practiced Falun Gong suffered in custody, stood with them at great personal cost. He was eventually stripped of his lawyer’s license; secret agents followed and harassed him and his family around the clock. Finally, he was abducted and thrown into a hellish five-year detention before being released and put under house arrest.

Gao Zhisheng talks to journalists in a cave home in northwestern China’s Shaanxi province in early 2015. (AP Photo/Isolda Morillo)
Gao Zhisheng talks to journalists in a cave home in northwestern China’s Shaanxi province in early 2015. (AP Photo/Isolda Morillo)

While in custody, Gao was threatened repeatedly, lost teeth, was shocked with electric batons, had his private parts punctured with toothpicks, and sometimes lost the ability to speak. Rather than give in, he assured his captors that it was they, not him, who were in danger. In his book, he refers to corrupt officials, including the once-powerful security head Zhou Yongkang, who have now been purged.

“It may be said that this book has torn the mask of the Communist Party,” Geng He said. “All the tortures and anti-humanity, anti-human rights brutality perpetrated upon Gao Zhisheng’s person by police officers, public security, the prisons, and army are recorded here and penned with blood and tears.”

Featured image: Copies of a book by renowned human rights lawyer in China, Gao Zhisheng are displayed during a press conference in Hong Kong on June 14, 2016. credit: Anthony Wallance/AFP/Getty Images

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