On December 20, Human Rights in China spoke with Geng He (耿和), wife of the Chinese lawyer Gao Zhisheng (高智晟), whose prosecution, torture, and disappearances by the Chinese authorities have gained worldwide attention and concern. In the interview, Geng He reacts to the latest official action against her husband, a revocation of Gao’s five-year sentence suspension that has put Gao back in prison, and provides fresh details on the ordeal that various family members have endured since 2006, including threats, taunts, and lies from various Chinese authorities, and describes the last phone contact she had with Gao, on April 17, 2010, before his disappearance since. (Geng He and their two children escaped China in early 2009, and arrived in the United States in March 2009, where they now live.)
Gao, an advocate of constitutional reform who represented politically sensitive cases, including Falun Gong practitioners and other rights defense lawyers, was convicted of “inciting subversion of state power” on December 22, 2006, and was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment and one year of post-release deprivation of political rights. He was also granted a five-year sentence suspension, a form of probation that allowed him to stay outside of prison under strict supervision and required that he report on his activities and seek permission for receiving visitors and traveling from his home base.
While serving his suspended sentence, Gao was kidnapped and detained for more than 50 days in September-November 2007, during which he was brutally tortured as detailed in a graphic account that he later published; in early February 2009, he was forcibly taken away from his home in Xiaoshibanqiao Village, Shaanxi Province; in April 2010, he briefly appeared in the Chinese media—in scenes that were obviously stage-managed—renouncing his rights activities. His family has heard nothing more from him since that time, more than 20 months ago.
On December 16, 2011, just six days before the expiration of Gao’s five-year sentence suspension, Chinese authorities, through a brief story in English issued by Xinhua, the official news agency, revoked the suspension. The Xinhua news story, citing a statement by the Beijing Municipal First Intermediate People’s Court (which HRIC has not been able to locate on the Internet), said that the reason for the revocation was that Gao “had seriously violated probation rules for a number of times, which led to the court decision to withdraw the probation.” Geng He said that neither she nor any other member of the family has received any official notification from the Chinese authorities regarding the revocation.
The following is the edited transcript of HRIC’s interview with Geng He.
For more information on Gao Zhisheng and Geng He, see:
- “Chinese Government Should Respect Gao Zhisheng’s Rights,” April 8, 2010
- “Statement by Geng He, Wife of Gao Zhisheng,” February 17, 2010
- “Top EU Official Asks China to Account for Missing Chinese Lawyer Gao Zhisheng,” February 10, 2010
- “Wife of Disappeared Lawyer Says to Chinese Government: Give Back My Husband,” February 4, 2010
- “Wife of Abducted Rights Defense Lawyer Gao Zhisheng Requests Urgent Help from U.S. Congress in Open Letter,” April 23, 2009
- “Family of Missing Rights Defense Lawyer Gao Zhisheng Arrives in U.S.,” March 11, 2009
- “Torture Account by Missing Rights Defense Lawyer Gao Zhisheng,” February 8, 2009
- Joint statement by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Human Rights in China, “Human Rights Lawyer in Arbitrary Detention,” February 2, 2009
- Kerry Brown, Review of Gao Zhisheng’s A China More Just, China Rights Forum, 2008, No.1
- “HRIC Statement on Gao Zhisheng’s Sentence,” December 22, 2006
- “HRIC Concerned over Gao Zhisheng’s Guilty Plea,” December 13, 2006
Gao Zhisheng’s account of his September 2007 kidnapping and torture:
- 黑夜、黑头套、黑帮绑架 (Chinese original)
- Dark Night, Dark Hood, and Kidnapping by Dark Mafia (English translation)