On March 29, Gao Zhisheng and his companion, Ma Wendu, left Dingzhou City. They stayed in Taiyuan City for the night of March 30, and then drove 370 kilometers to arrive at Gao's hometown, Shanbei, in Shanxi Province on the 31st. Gao plans to stay there for ten days to pay respect to his deceased grandmother and mother. Along with participants from 29 provinces across China, he will continue his human rights hunger strike on April 1.
Due to the high mobile phone costs incurred the previous day, attorney Gao stayed in a room with a telephone on the 30th. Although he did not see anyone following him, someone opened and went through two of his boxes of informational materials. They were in the trunk of his car parked outside the hotel's main entrance, where there is 24 hour security.
During this time, attorney Gao received many calls from overseas. During the interview, calls came in non-stop. He apologized for taking a call. “It's a call from an overseas friend. Many people are waiting to speak to me. Now all I need is time and energy.”
Along the way, Gao met many people who came to see him out of admiration. When he arrived in Taiyuan City on March 30, local residents rushed out to greet him. Along the way, Gao often stopped to chat with dozens of people and distributed information on his appeals for Falun Gong and human rights. When he talked about upholding human rights with non-violent, peaceful means, without bloodshed, people listened and wept.
Various people spoke up: Who is the leader of this human rights movement? When can we become a part of this non-violent movement? End the tyranny of this dictatorship! End the down-trodden life caused by the Communist Party! At present, we don't need many instigators; everyone is waiting for an opportunity. The problem is how to go about doing it. We no longer need to listen to anybody's argument as to whether to believe in the words of the Communist Party. For years, we have stopped believing in whatever the Communist Party has to say.
Gao Encounters Disheartened Masses Everywhere
Gao was forced to stay in Dingzhou City for several days because of his car accident on the Dingzhou highway. Yu Zhonghua, a man from Yangquan City, Shanxi Province, who is in the book printing business, came to see him.
Attorney Gao said, “When Yu Zhonghua came to see me today, his left hand had been cut off with only a piece of flesh that had been sewn on his arm. The tragedy of his experience was not just the fact that a citizen's hand was cut off, but that after the incident in Dingzhou, the culprit was not punished. Yu Zhonghua spent over 30,000 yuan (US$3,742) in medical fees out of his own pocket. He was maimed, yet the culprit got off scot free and did not pay any compensation. The case was reported to the police, but his case was shuffled around because the culprit had some influence and connections with the police department.
“In the years 2002, 2003, and 2004, there was hardly any party or provincial newspaper that did not do a write-up on me. CCTV (China Central TV station) also did a story on me because I was one of the top attorneys in China,” Gao said.
“However, after I published my first open letter, all TV reports on me ceased throughout China. Earlier articles about my aid to organizations for the poor and the disadvantaged that had been published on the Internet were removed. The authorities were afraid more people would read about me because now there are many people concerned about my situation.”
Gao Talks to People on the Way to His Hometown
Gao Zhisheng: The journey was not a great distance, yet it still took about ten hours. Normally, the driving time would have been just over four hours. It took so long because I would stop at places where people were gathered and chat with them. I spent nearly four hours in Lishi City.
With different organizations, I used different approaches. For example, arriving in Linxian, the last town in Shanxi Province today, I stopped to have a conversation with some people. I asked them: How is your present situation? What are you most worried about? What are you thinking of? What is your view of the local cadres, your views on the Communist Party?
As more and more people gathered, I started to hand out some information about me, my open letters to the government regarding the Falun Gong issue as well as some books received from civilians. I told them to take the material home and read it and when they finished, to pass it around to more people and relatives. I told them that from these books, they would discover three facts. First, they would see Falun Gong in a new light, different from what they had heard, seen, and understood in the past, and learn the truth. Second, they would see from my articles the true face of the communist regime. Third, they would see the true situation of China. About 20-30 people who were gathered around me listened intently. Each took information from me.
Reporter: Had the villagers heard of you before?
Gao Zhisheng: Some of them had. Appellants know of me, and those who listen to the radio have also heard of me. They can listen to the Sound of Hope radio broadcast and also to RFI (Radio France Internationale). Moreover, the majority of these people also know something about my situation.
There was a man by the name of Qin Yingquan in Shanxi Province. He had expressed his grievance in a talk show on CCTV. Someone on the show told him Gao Zhisheng is now in Shanxi Province. I had helped him previously when he went to appeal. The year before, I spent Chinese New Year with him. Last year I lost touch with him because he had moved. When he heard that I was going to pass by Lishi City today, he came out to wait for me by the roadside at 9.00 p.m. even though I would not reach Lishi City until 11:00 p.m. Because I did not see him, I drove on for another 20 kilometers before he rang me; then I headed back. Because there was a toll station between us, I had to pay toll charges twice in order to meet with him.
Conflict Intensifies Between Chinese Farmers and the CCP Regime
Mr. Qin told attorney Gao that the police are afraid to come to the village. Once they enter the village, the farmers beat them up. Villagers do not allow their vehicles to enter the village; they would set the vehicles on fire if they entered the village. Their hatred has grown this extreme. Several days ago, villagers used stones to drive away the police from the neighboring village's Party committee.
Gao asked Mr. Qin, “Wasn't it a common practice during the Chinese New Year and other major holidays that the CCP officials would bring newspapers and magazines with them and visit the poor in the village to show concern for the poor?”
Qin told Gao a true story about an occasion when cadres from the village CCP Political and Legal Committee brought a group of people to his village to perform their so-called duty of “visiting the poor” and “obtaining an understanding of the situation by helping the poor.” Can you guess how the villagers “welcomed” them? Over a hundred villagers covered their heads with plastic bags with holes for their eyes and nose, tied white towels on their left arms and greeted them with sticks and stones. The cadres ran away in haste.
How could they still pretend to care for the poor and not feel embarrassed by their hypocrisy? Nowadays, people will not accept such a display of “concern.” Finally the Party Committee had to call for help, and over a hundred anti-riot police helped them flee from the village in the middle of the night. Can you imagine that! How embarrassing for them!
Mr. Qin had a lot to say. Talking to him, you can sense that the CCP's rule in the countryside has already lost its legitimacy; basically its rule is a failure. Unless it resorts to using violence, the communist regime has lost its power to rule the villages, and the conflict between the farmers and the CCP's tyranny has reached a boiling point.
People Have Already Abandoned the Communist Regime
Attorney Gao said without a doubt, “Wherever I go in Shanxi Province, you don't need to call the people to action. They have already abandoned the communist regime.” He was most happy to see that response. He added that when you start to communicate with these people, they emphatically ask what they should do to overthrow such a regime.
On this trip, many people told Gao that several years ago, the situation in their areas had already reached a critical point of igniting into violent revolution, that the conditions were ripe for a revolution.
“This worries us the most because China has large rural areas and large numbers of farmers, nearly 900 million now, with a common wish to overthrow the communist regime, and they are asking how this should be done,” Gao said.
“We see a danger, and I worry about it all the time. I keep telling them not to resort to violence. In all the places I visited, the people are mentally prepared to use violence to bury the communist regime. I tried my best to tell them that violence creates violence. Once you start using violence, it will hurt you because the process of violence is a double edged sword. Right now, wherever I go, I call for the adoption of non-violence, no bloodshed, and no enemies. We all need to practice that.
“Many people wept after hearing my words. They asked who could lead them. When could they be part of this non-violent protest? Today, I was told someone from Lishi City, Shanxi Province wanted to meet with me. People told me he claimed to have the ability to mobilize tens of thousands of people in one call, but he promotes violence. The local people kept suggesting that we should meet and said that the other person was also eager to meet me. I told them I would only meet him on one condition—he must completely accept non-violence.”
While chatting with the local people, Gao heard about an incident that happened last year in the Lvliang area of Shanxi Province that shows the extent of the hatred between the farmers and the ruling regime. Such conflicts are not reported to the outside world. In China, people can sometimes stay in rooms in hotel basements for cheaper rates. In this incident, farmers loaded tons of explosives into an underground area of a hotel where local party leaders were planning to hold a meeting. The scheme was discovered and many people were arrested.
Gao illustrated the fact that the farmers are prepared to abandon the communist regime. He said outbreaks of fire were abnormally high in Shanxi Province this year because people were using fire as a way to release their anger. “I met many people in Lishi City today. When I told them this autocratic rule must end, immediately the people's eyes brightened up. All of them told me that they could mobilize many people to fight. One could see that the only thing on their minds is violence.
However, attorney Gao emphasized, “On the road, I also told my companion Mr. Ma that because we believe in God, we don't need to rush. We just do things at the human level. Regardless of whether we are working or resting, God never rests. God is always doing what he will do, and he knows what to do.”