Harassment by Beijing police of the wife of the imprisoned, outspoken human rights attorney Gao Zhisheng climaxed on the morning of Friday, Nov. 24 (Beijing time) when she suffered a beating at the hands of two police officers.
In a phone call that same morning to a family friend, AIDS activist Hu Jia, Geng He for the first time revealed the abuse she and her family have suffered since her husband's arrest on August 15. Hu recorded this call, and quotes from Geng in this report are taken from that recording. The transcript of this recording appears at the end of this article.
Hu said he received the call from Geng at around 11:55 a.m., November 24. “At first I could hardly tell what she was saying because she cried so hard. She cried the way a woman who has been victimized by years of sexual trafficking would cry. She was in utter misery,” said Hu.
According to Geng, at around 11:30 a.m. she had asked three police officers tailing her while she shopped to keep their distance. They denied they were following her and a quarrel erupted, during which the police officers began to curse. When Geng talked back, a policeman over 180 cm (almost 5' 11″) tall began to beat her and another tall male policeman joined in.
Geng sobbed as she told Hu, “Hu Jia, what can I do…they beat me up, they cursed me; they beat me [so badly that] my mouth and gums are bleeding; the fingernail on my little finger is torn off, my clothes are all ripped into pieces. They beat me [crying bitterly]—two men beat me.”
Entire Family Harassed
After Gao's arrest on August 15, 20 policemen and women moved into the family's apartment, staying there in shifts of five at a time.
On November 1, Geng's two-year-old son Tianyu went missing for 30 minutes. According to Geng she completely collapsed when that happened.
On November 21, Beijing police showed their badges and attempted to pick up Tianyu, but his kindergarten teacher refused to comply.
Geng said the teacher at the kindergarten guessed something might have happened to her family, so they wouldn't even allow her mother to pick up her son. She said, “These days I have to pick up my son even when I am running a fever.”
Geng's mother is 70 years old, and according to Geng she is tailed by police if she leaves the house.
When she attended a PTA meeting, Geng witnessed the chairs of three police officers and a portable heater right outside her 13-year-old daughter's classroom.
Geng said, “Two policewomen and one policeman have always been following Gege. They are always following her in the classroom or in the corridor. They even follow Gege to the lady's room. Her education environment has become inhospitable. It is horrible. It breaks my heart.”
On October 21, unable to bear the continued watching, Gege escaped from the police and took refuge in a classmate's home. The police found her and took her back to her family home. A police officer guaranteed Gege that in just three days she would be no longer be tailed and she would meet her daddy as long as she promised in writing not to call anyone. Over 30 days have passed and Gege still has not had the promised chance to meet her father, and still is followed wherever she goes.
Extension of Persecution of Gao
Before his arrest, Gao Zhisheng had become one of the best known dissidents inside China. As a lawyer, he strove to make real the protections guaranteed by the Chinese regime's laws. In 2001 he was named by the Ministry of Justice as one of China's top ten lawyers. He defended farmers whose land was confiscated with little or no compensation and House Christians who suffered persecution.
Upon investigating the persecution of Falun Gong, Gao wrote three open letters demanding that this persecution end. Disgusted by the persecution of Falun Gong, in December 2005 he publicly withdrew from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
In a journal entry written by Gao on August 12 and published by The Epoch Times, he says “My family and I have been illegally suppressed and harassed for 259 days by the Chinese Communist Party's Central Commission on Political and Legal Affairs, the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of State Security, and the Ministry of Justice.
“They initiated this persecution simply because I appealed in open letters to China's top leaders Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao to face and to stop the atrocities the evil forces within the CCP have committed against Falun Gong practitioners.” Three days after writing this entry, Gao was arrested while visiting a critically ill family member. He was not charged with any crime. On October 12 he was formally charged with “suspicion of inciting subversion of state power.”
Trying to Soften Gao
The security bureau police have claimed that Gao has confessed to subversion and is cooperating with them.
According to Geng, the Chinese authorities allowed her to meet with Gao in Beijing's No.2 Detention Center on October 6. It was Geng He's birthday. The meeting lasted for 20 minutes.
Geng said, “He is very thin and frail. He didn't talk much because there were other people there. He did not say much. He asked me to take care of myself and look after the children. He asked me to close his law office and tell the employed attorneys to resign.”
Hu asked Geng if Gao Zhisheng had admitted the subversion charges as the police had reported. Geng replied, “I couldn't tell.”
According to Hu, the Chinese authorities allowed the visit by Geng in order to soften Gao's resistance to them and to help keep Geng under control. If Geng has hope, she is less likely to speak out. According to Hu, what Geng witnessed of Gao in detention and the continuing ordeal faced by Gao's family call into question the claim that Gao has cooperated with them.
Trying to End a Friendship
According to Geng, a policeman named Liu Wei from Beijing's State Security Team often comes to her home. She says, “They will knock on my door and try to brainwash me. They will ask me to call you and tell you to keep yourself out of my family's affairs. Or they will ask me to write a letter to you sever our family friendship.”
Hu replied to Geng, “Even if I receive a letter or a call from you to sever our friendship, I will continue to be involved because I know you must be forced to do it against your will. The dissident's family members are always forced to do things because of pressure.”
Hu said he was slightly comforted as well as outraged by the outcome of the scuffle.
Hu said, “I have received calls from Geng He before, but she had always sounded frightened and been careful not to say anything. Each time she called, I was certain there were police next to her. This time it was different. Geng He has been bullied for such a long time. It was a good thing that Geng He was able to scream for help after suffering this ordeal. She has finally awakened. As long as she is willing to speak out, the world will know what kind of life Gao Zhisheng's family has been reduced to. The world will know what the Chinese Communist regime has been doing. The world will know the so-called 'harmonious society' that the Chinese Communist regime claims to build is a despicable living hell.”
Hu Jia has a slight and thin constitution, but he has a fiery spirit. Hu Jia said, “I feel ashamed of myself as a man that I am under house arrest and don't have the freedom to go see them. Otherwise, I would run over there right away and fight with those policemen who beat up Geng He. If there is one thing I cannot tolerate, it is men that use violence on women and children.”
After the phone conversation with Geng, Hu sat down in front of his computer. This 32-year-old man said he wiped the tears from his eyes a few times before he was able to see the computer monitor. He said he didn't even know when he started to cry.
Hu said, “If the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights plays the telephone recording of Geng He's tearful complaint, those Chinese officials at the U.N. will be so embarrassed that they will crawl out of the door, This is the first and most valuable testimony of Mrs. Gao since Mr. Gao was arrested on August 15. It proves that Gao's family has been subjected to inhuman treatment for months.”
Hu said the most important thing is to restore the freedom of Geng He and her two children.
Transcript of a phone conversation between Hu Jia and Geng He
Geng: Hu Jia, what can I do…they beat me up, they cursed me; they beat me [so badly that] my mouth and gums are bleeding; the fingernail on my little finger is torn off, my clothes are all ripped into pieces. They beat me [crying bitterly]—two men beat me.
Hu: Sister, when did they beat you?
Geng: A while ago. After that I took a taxi home. I think it was half an hour ago.
Hu: So they beat you up half an hour ago? Those people from the [department of] State Safety?
Geng: Yes [they are from] State Safety; they have been following me.
Hu: Why did they beat you?
Geng: They said “who is following me?” I said well, I am going back; they were also going back. I said “Aren't you following me?” They swore at me, and I swore back. They then started to beat me. Two policemen wearing leather jackets, about 1.8 meters tall.
Hu: The policemen were that big?
Geng: Yes; plus a female policewoman.
Hu: Sister, are these the same people who beat up Attorney Gao before? Or are they different people?
Geng: Their faces are very familiar.
Hu: I understand, sister-in-law. Slow down a bit and [tell me] where are you injured; tell me more details.
Geng: My mouth is full of blood, and teeth are loosened; the fingernail of the small finger on my right hand is completely torn apart. I was wearing leather clothing, and it has been ripped into pieces. When I came out of the taxi, I was too embarrassed to wear it, so I took it off and brought it home with me.
Hu: Where did they beat you?
Geng: They beat me on Jinsong Road, around Lidu Hotel on the bus route 408.
Hu: What were you doing there?
Geng: I went to a clothing market there to buy some clothing.
Hu: Sister, let me ask more details. They followed you and you asked them not to follow too closely, that was when you argued with them. Is that the case?
Geng: I asked them “Don't follow me so closely.” One person said, “Who is following you? I am making a phone call. Who is following you?” I said, well, then I will turn back; he turned back too; I walked forward, he walked forward. I said, “Aren't you following me?” He cursed me, “You bastard, you are irritating me.” I cursed back, and he started to beat me. I am wearing a high-heel today, and I do not have any strength. I am having a fever…He beat me on my mouth, and my whole mouth is bleeding.
Hu: I see. How may people did they have?
Geng: They have one woman, in her twenties……there was a car by them…that car……I do not remember its license plate; [it] seems to have 596 on the plate. One man came out of the car. He pretended to want to calm the fight, but he was totally one-sided. He held me up, and the other one beat me very hard.
Hu: I see. The two who beat you—are they both male?
Geng: Yes, the woman did not lift a finger.
Hu: I understand. This is so shameless. Was that about half an hour ago?
Geng: Yes, half an hour ago.
Hu: What should be done now? You need to go to the hospital to check your teeth. Your teeth are loose, and under this circumstance, you have to take some measures.
Geng: I just contacted Xiaoguang Police Station, but I have not gone [there]. Do you think I should go to the hospital? Or, should I have a picture taken [of my injury]?
Hu: Of course you should have a picture taken—it is better if you do. But the issue is, who can take a picture for you? We are on the telephone now……
Geng: Look who can take a picture for me? I was going to go to a Photo Shop, but they would follow me and would destroy (the pictures). When I took the taxi, the taxi driver was afraid of courting trouble. I said he did not need to worry, and I thanked him. I took down the license plate of the taxi, and kept my taxi receipt. I said to the driver, “You saw my fingernail was torn apart, and my clothes were ripped into pieces. You saw this, and you should say you did.” I think he was timid and afraid.
Hu: I understand, sister. You have loosened teeth and a torn fingernail; you must go to the hospital for treatment, otherwise, if infection occurs, that would be bad. You already have a fever. You have to go to the hospital. Which hospital is the closest from here?
Geng: There is a hospital close-by; don't worry. I will wait now for my mother to come back. Even after she comes back, I am thinking of keeping the evidence. I should not seek treatment, I should keep this injured image to seek [justice from] them.
Hu: I understand. I did not expect they would treat you like this. Sister-in-law, is this the first time they beat you since August 15 [after Attorney Gao was arrested]?
Geng: They have not stopped [the ill-treatment], and I have been enduring all of this. Every time they would try to convince me not to say anything, lest it would affect their treatment of Attorney Gao. So I endured all this. But today I really cannot endure it anymore. On November 1, our [little son] Tianyu was lost. That day I totally collapsed, because…… I collapsed, so terrified. He was lost for 30 minutes. After that day, I totally do not believe in them [police]. Today I was beaten; small frictions never stopped.
Hu: Other than verbal abuse, did those male and female police beat you before? You said “small frictions.” Did they beat you?
Geng: They verbally abuse me, curse me; as for physically beating me up, this was the first time.
Hu: Sister, did they curse, calling you a prostitute or a whore?
Geng He: No, they didn't. But they constantly call me “beast” or “shameless woman.” Something horrible happened about two days ago. I think it was November 21. I attended the PTA meeting at Gege's school in the afternoon, so I wasn't able to pick up Tianyu at 4:30 p.m. and I asked my mom to pick him up. But the kindergarten refused to give her Tianyu. She went there twice before the teacher finally allowed her to pick up Tianyu. I went to the kindergarten the next morning and the teacher repeatedly asked me to leave my mobile phone number with her. When I asked her the reason, she told me the police came at November 20 or 21. The police showed them the badge and asked to pick up Tianyu. She said, “We became afraid. We knew something must have happened. That's why we didn't want to give the child to your mother.” I said, “What did the police want to do with my boy? What kind of impact will the police make on my boy?” The police were at the kindergarten on the 20th or 21st. These days I have to pick up Tianyu in person even when I have a fever because the kindergarten will only give the child to me.
Hu Jia: I know. I understand. Sister, I will definitely pass all the information to human rights organizations. If we want to rescue Gao Zhisheng, we must rescue his family members first. First of all, we must try to save Gege, Tianyu, and you from the control of the Chinese authorities.
Geng He: Things are getting worse now. At the PTA meeting, I saw three chairs and one portable heater outside Gege's classroom. The police have been watching Gege like this. Gege told me she is followed everywhere. I feel horrible for her. Who knows what the child has been going through in such an inhospitable environment. Two policewomen and one policeman have always been following Gege. They are always following her in the classroom or in the corridor. They even follow Gege to the lady's room. Her education environment has become inhospitable. It is horrible. It breaks my heart. What an environment…
Hu Jia: I know, sister.
Geng He: It has been three months. There is no ending. They are still following me. What have I done? They should either arrest me or leave me alone. They don't have any evidence to arrest me. Then they don't have any right to threaten or beat me up. They even follow my 70-year-old mother. What right do they have? Since they took away Gao Zhisheng on August 15, Gege and I have not received any letters. The police intercepted all of our mail. (sobbing) How are we going to live like this? I have almost calmed down from the arrest of Gao Zhisheng, but these two children are important to me! They put us under house arrest and have been following me for a long time. I hate these people! When Gao Zhisheng was arrested, we were very calm. But now we cannot live like this. The entire family is followed at all times. Why?!! Whatever Gao Zhisheng has done is his business. We did not do anything. What right do they have to treat me like this?! It's not just me! They are treating Gege and my two-year-old boy the same way! [sobbing] Ah, I just don't understand it.
Hu Jia: Sister, have the police told you that you are considered an accomplice of Gao Zhisheng?
Geng He: They did imply that. One day when I picked up Tianyu, the police acted polite. I said, “You two young men, please keep your distance. Your presence has a negative impact on my boy.” One of them replied, “Are we the negative impact or are you the negative impact? Why don't you think about it? Who is causing a negative impact on whom?” I felt they wanted me to reflect upon myself and cooperate.
Hu Jia: I know. About the subversion charge against Gao Zhisheng, the Pretrial Division of Beijing City Public Security Bureau told me that I am an accomplice of Gao Zhisheng. I have been refuting their allegation. I meant to say that if you are not considered an accomplice, it is against the law to put you under house arrest.
Geng He: Now I am strongly asking the police to issue any evidence against me! I am strongly asking the police to arrest me and imprison me for three to five months so that my mother and the two children can live a peaceful life! I am strongly asking them to arrest me, but they won't do it.
Hu Jia: Sister, I mean they have never told you explicitly that you are an accomplice?
Geng He: No, they have never told me that.
Hu Jia: They have never told me so in writing. But I did receive three criminal summons.
Geng He: When the police ransacked my home, I received a 24-hour summons. I didn't receive anything else. I did not even receive the arrest warrant for Gao Zhisheng's arrest. I was given only a verbal notice on September 30.
Hu Jia: I know. Sister, how is Gao Zhisheng's mental and physical state besides the fact he is very thin? Are there other changes?
Geng He: He is very thin and frail. He didn't talk much because there were other people there. He did not say much. He asked me to take care of myself and look after the children. He asked me to close his law office and tell the employed attorneys to resign. He asked me to finish up the office.
Hu Jia: He asked you to close up his law firm, right? Was it October 6 when you met him? (Yes) It was your birthday? (Yes) How long was the visit? (About 20 minutes) You think he did not cooperate with the police? In other words, he did not admit the charge against him? Based on our understanding, Gao Zhisheng is not the kind of person who would do that. Even if he should admit the false charge, he must have done it to protect his family. Did you feel he had admitted the charges?
Geng He: I cannot tell.
Hu Jia: The police keep saying [to me] that Gao Zhisheng is extremely cooperative with them, that he has admitted the charge and that he is waiting for the sentence.
Geng He: I cannot tell.
Hu Jia: I see. Well, sister, I will tell of the assault by the police to the U.S. Embassy and the British Embassy, because it is despicable.
Geng He: What should I do if Liu Wei comes to see me?
Hu Jia: Who are you talking about?
Geng He: Liu Wei from the State Security Team. If the State Security people come. I would tell them I have called Hu Jia because I don't know what to do or who else to go to. Who will know if I am killed? Besides, I am not an idiot. I know Hu Jia has been trying to help me! That's what I are going to say.
Hu Jia: Sister, what is the worst Liu Wei can force you to do if the police's assault is known to the outside world?
Geng He: They will knock on my door and try to brainwash me. They will ask me to call you and tell you to keep yourself out of my family's affairs. Or they will ask me to write a letter to you sever our family friendship. That's all they do.
Hu Jia: That's what they have been telling you every day?
Hu Jia: I understand. Let me tell you something, sister. Even if I receive a letter or a call from you to sever our friendship, I will continue to be involved because I know you must be forced to do it against your will. The dissident's family members are always forced to do things because of pressure.
Geng He: This is the reason why I have not been in contact with you until today. For three months I had not called you until today. I did not even contact you the day Tianyu was missing for 30 minutes. Why do you think I contacted you today? It is because they have driven me to extremes.
Hu Jia: Sister, when your mother comes home, you must ask her to go to the hospital with you even if you have to go to the hospital by foot. You have to dress the wound and have your loose teeth examined. The wound would become inflamed and since you have a fever now, it will get worse.
Geng He: Okay. I see. Sorry about all the trouble.
Hu Jia: No, it is no trouble at all. Sister, you are welcome to call me at any time.
Geng He: Goodbye
Hu Jia: Goodbye
[Hu Jia's telephone conversation with Geng He (in Chinese):