A much-loved Chinese human rights lawyer has been subject to forms of torture “beyond anyone’s imagination”, a high-level government source has disclosed.
Gao Zhisheng was arrested in November last year and tortured for nearly two months before being released into house arrest.
Now in a taped interview, a senior Chinese government whistleblower has revealed the extent of the torture and humiliation the lawyer suffered.
In one case he was stripped and beaten with electric batons and when he lost consciousness prison guards urinated on his head. His family, in particular his young children are also believed to have suffered forms of torture.
The revelations are all the more poignant given that he disappeared from house arrest on August 7, the eve of the Olympics and his whereabouts are currently unknown.
Vice president of the European Parliament Edward McMillan-Scott recently wrote to UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, urging him to try to get guarantees of Mr. Gao’s safety when he met with Communist Party bosses at the Olympics.
“Gao Zhisheng is known as the conscience of China, as Russian dissidents were in the Soviet era,” McMillan Scott said.
“The difference between the Soviet Union and China today is the ‘widespread’ use of torture in China’s gulag, according to the UN’s rapporteur on torture, Dr Manfred Novak.
“These are believed to hold up to seven million Chinese and I have met many survivors of torture for their religious beliefs.”
Mr. Gao was once among China’s top-ten lawyers and defended the rights of house-church members, coal miners, petitioners, home-demolition victims, and Falun Gong adherents.
In 2006 he penned several letters to the Communist Party leadership calling for an end to the persecution of the Falun Gong spiritual group, which was outlawed in 1999 after the regime grew paranoid over its popularity.
His arrest came after he wrote to Mr. McMillan-Scott and US Congress raising concerns about growing human rights violations in the run-up to the Olympics.
A well-placed Chinese government source told The Epoch Times’ sister station Sound of Hope radio that he was tortured in the same way as Falun Gong practitioners were.
In a taped telephone interview the source said that the purpose of the tortures were to make him wish he was dead and break his spirit. He was held in a re-education camp rather than sent to prison.
“The tortures are beyond anyone’s imagination,” the source said.
“Gao is well known in the West, a highly admired person, and if anything else happens to him I think that it will contribute significantly to establishing the 2008 Games in the minds of people as being the second Berlin Games of 1936,” said David Kilgour, former Canadian Secretary of State.
“It’s utterly indefensible what they’re doing. It just makes the point that it’s a totalitarian government rather than an authoritarian government and that human life—unless you’re one of the party apparatchiks—means as much to the Party state in China as does a cigarette ash,” said Kilgour.
Kilgour added, "We have a report that he is being tortured in Beijing. David Matas and I nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize. He is one the bravest human beings on this earth and he is being tortured, I gather, right now."