Five Hunger Strikers Abducted, Gao Zhisheng Stands Firm
On February 16, five people known to be associated with both Attorney Gao Zhisheng and the “Relay Hunger Strike Group” disappeared. They are: Hu Jia, Qi Zhiyong, Ma Wendu, Ou Yang and Wen Haibo. Wen is Gao's assistant and Hu is a hunger striker. None of the telephones, either at Gao's home or office, were working and there was an obvious increase in the number of security personnel tailing him. Also, three appellants (those traveling to Beijing seeking to appeal against local injustice) from Shanghai, who had participated in the Ten Provinces Hunger Strike on Feb. 15, are also believed to be missing. On Feb. 17, people from 12 provinces in mainland China will participate in the Relay Hunger Strike, which is a peaceful and non-violent protest against the communist regime's intolerable behavior of kidnapping Chinese citizens.
Qi and Hu Kidnapped By Police
Since the start of the Relay Hunger Strike on Feb. 4, people from dozens of overseas countries established a support group and many well-known persons have published their statements of support. However, participants inside China faced varying levels of suppression, so the China Relay Hunger Strike for Human Rights Support Group announced, on Feb. 15, its first Ten Province Hunger Strike. This was to support group members who had been persecuted for their previous participation and also to condemn the crimes of the government.
About 11:30 p.m. on Feb. 15, Mr. Hu Jia received a text message from Mr. Qi Zhiyong's mobile phone. Hu could only read, “I've been kidnapped” before the signal was cut off and not even Mrs. Qi knew anything else about her husband. The next day, after checking with many sources, Mrs. Qi learned that he had been arrested by the Beijing National Security Bureau and his mobile phone confiscated. Mr. Qi's whereabouts are currently unknown.
On the morning of Feb. 16, around 10:00 a.m, Beijing police arrested Mr. Hu Jia. He was already under house arrest and all communications with him have been cut off. Mr. Hu's wife, Jin Yan, said that in recent years Hu had often been taken away by them. However, this time she does not know which department arrested Hu and she has no other recourse but to wait for notification from the authorities. Mr. Hu was placed under house arrest when, on Feb. 10, he published his status as the volunteer contact person for the Relay Hunger Strike on the Internet.
Also on that day, around 10:00 a.m, Attorney Gao Zhisheng's assistant, Wen Haibo, and two volunteer workers, Ma Wendu and Ou Yang, also disappeared. It was clear from the computers in their office that they were working when they left. Currently, it is not possible to contact them via mobile phone.
Furthermore, Mrs. Jia Jianying, who participated in the hunger strike is under surveillance and three others, Mr. Liu Xiaobo, Miss Liu Di and Mr. Li Hai, who have not yet started their hunger strike, are under house arrest. Mr. Zhao Xin was interrogated twice by the police and other civil rights advocates were warned by the employers not to join the Relay Hunger Strike for Human Rights Support Group and not to contact Gao Zhisheng.
In addition to those mentioned above, three appellants from Shanghai who participated in the Ten Provinces Hunger Strike on Feb. 15, were also taken away by Shanghai police, and no one knows their current whereabouts.
12 Provinces Hunger Strike on Feb. 17
In regard to these incidents, Gao said that the government's attempt to collect criminal evidence on him shows that they have already lost all moral authority. Gao also said that at the close of 2005, the government began to interrogate and frisk anyone who still had any contact with him. His assistant, Wen Haibo, was secretly interrogated by the Beijing Public Security Bureau. And last December, police in Shaanxi and Xinjiang Provinces also “carefully and patiently” checked up on several generations of Gao's and his wife's ancestors, with their political backgrounds being checked back one hundred years, to the end of the Qing Dynasty.
Attorney Gao added, “Today, all my assistants have disappeared, showing that the CCP regime's 'criminal evidence collection process' has reached a dead end. They have started to 'take away' people around me, which certainly had to be carefully planned!”
As of now, the government has secretly arrested five people, who are not only advocates for the Relay Hunger Strike, but are also important volunteer workers. Gao believes that the government is trying to put pressure on both them and him, and their arrest has the effect of symbolically cutting off Gao's arms.
The well-known lawyer is used to hard work, as in the past he had to handle and investigate all kinds of cases by himself. So even though his volunteer co-workers were arrested, it took him less than two hours to finish the 12 Provinces Relay Hunger Strike Proposal. He said, “I've proved to them that even with no else around, I can finish this kind of work by myself.”
People from 12 provinces, Xinjiang, Heilongjiang, Shaanxi, Shandong, Guizhou, Henan, Sichuan, Hebei, Inner Mongolia, Jiangsu and Hubei, intend to participate in the Relay Hunger Strike on Feb. 17. In order to avoid interference from the government, a detailed listing of the participants will be released to the world on the morning of Feb. 17.
When questioned how he would counteract the government's separation strategy and terrorist crack-down, Gao answered, “There is no way to counteract that! Since this society is not ruled by laws, we must expect unimaginable problems that leave us with hardly any way out at all! In the current situation, hunger strike is our only option.”
Today (Feb. 16) the number of agents monitoring Gao has greatly increased and been raised to a “higher standard.” Though the monitoring several days ago was still considered covert, it is very obvious today; as Gao took their daughter to her flute lesson, many secret police followed them.
Attorney Gao asserts that the CCP's behavior once again shows that it has no intelligible way to communicate with people. “Even now,” he said, “before its death, at least it should leave some space for people to live with self-respect and it should not force all Chinese people to cooperate with it, just for the sake of its own survival.”
Today, a New Zealand journalist asked Gao, “Do you think that Chinese President Hu Jintao should communicate with Li Hongzhi?”
Attorney Gao answered, “Why not? Theoretically, he should.”
The journalist next asked, “Falun Gong believes that the CCP is helpless, so why should Hu talk with Falun Gong?”
Gao replied promptly: “That confuses two separate questions: Is it the CCP, or is it Hu Jintao that is helpless?”
Because of his three open letters appealing for Falun Gong, Gao Zhisheng faces police-state suppression all the time. But he asserts that, though he may be under intense pressure, he can still calmly and peacefully think about the current situation. He still wants to do his best, as a lawyer, to peacefully and rationally restore the basic rights and dignity guaranteed to all Chinese citizens by the Chinese Constitution. He said, “Peace does not mean not to try. We will still publish our informational notices and still strongly condemn the Beijing Public Security for their unwarranted suppression of the non-violent hunger strike conducted by rational and motivated Chinese citizens.”