Gao Zhisheng Barred from Visiting U.S. to Receive Award

July 3, 2007 Updated: July 3, 2007

The American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) recently granted famous Chinese human rights lawyer, Gao Zhisheng, the Courageous Advocacy Award and invited him to attend an award ceremony in California on June 30 this year.

Notice of the award was delivered to Gao in May. Gao cherished the forthcoming opportunity to exchange ideas with overseas judicial peers. He hoped to discuss issues of constitutional government and rule of law with lawyers and judicial officials in the U.S. to promote similar goals in mainland China.

To this end, Gao and various overseas organizations have been trying their best to break through illegal restrictions imposed by China's department of politics and law. ABOTA wrote to President Hu Jintao directly expressing their sincere wish that he could play a pivotal role in the issue of Gao's American trip, as he did previously, in allowing Dr. Gao Yaojie, a Chinese gynecologist to visit the U.S. on another occasion.

However, nothing has been heard from Attorney Gao since June 24. Calls from overseas to his cell phone only received a message saying that the phone had been turned off. It was not until 7:54 p.m. Beijing time on June 30, that a call puts made through to a number monitored by national security authorities. It was learned then that the police had taken Gao away from Beijing on June 24.

It is believed that the purpose of the latest actions by China's department of politics and law is to prevent Gao from visiting the United States and to quietly sneak through politically sensitive period near the 10th anniversary of Hong Kong's return to China on July 1. The police indicated that Gao could not return to Beijing and reunite with his family until July 3.

On December 22, 2006, Gao was sentenced to three years imprisonment with a probation period of five years. Though he was able to return home later, he and his family been living as if under house arrest. The police took Gao's wife and children hostage so as to control his words and actions. On April 6, 2007, Gao could endure it no more. At the risk of being imprisoned again, Gao disclosed the cruel persecution he had suffered during his kidnapping and detention, and the inhumane torment to which his wife and children had been subjected. That evening, Gao was taken away by the police and detained for six days.

On June 2, 2007, Gao was beaten again when he questioned the burly national security guard who had assaulted his wife. Gao was hit in the head repeatedly, which caused him to vomit twice, once at the scene and once after retuning home. Gao's wife Geng He and daughter Geng Ge were frightened by this. The next day, Gao's entire family was taken by the police to the Lidu Restaurant in the Jiuxianqiao area in Chaoyang District of Beijing. The police used the pretext of offering Gao's family a rest in peace and quiet; in reality, it was the start of another period of illegal detention to isolate Gao from the outside world. Gao and his family were kept isolated during the sensitive period near the 18th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre. Gao and his family was not able to return home until after June 4.

Afterwards, a friend learned in law, suggested that Gao sue the National Safety and Security Bureau (NSNB), of Ministry of Public Security, for beating him and his wife. While appreciating his friend's good intentions, Gao, who knows the law very well himself, said: “it cannot be helped.” Since the national security authorities belong to the secret police, Gao could not find out the name of his assailant, nor would the general squad admit to such a crime. Though there were witnesses at the scene, under the Chinese police's state-sponsored terrorism, no one dares to testify for Gao publicly.

The NSNB is the most formal underworld organization in mainland China. While safeguarding the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)'s interests, it is infringing upon the nation's interests and people's safety. Its nature is similar to that of the secret police of the “Schutzstaffel” (SS) and the “Gestapo” under the rule of German Nazis in the 30's to 40's. The NSNB is granted the biggest privileges in the Public Security organ, and has the most abundant human and material resources. In certain cases, the NSNB can even give orders to the procuratorate and the courts.

The NSNB can be called the core of the state underground organization in China. Their mission is to illegally deprive people of civil rights ensured by the constitution, including freedom of speech, freedom of association, and freedom of belief. The NSNB is known to employ deceitful, tyrannical threats and violent crackdowns to achieve their ends. China's notorious “610 Office” is also subordinate to the powerful NSNB. Every day NSNB secret police commit crimes against humanity, violating both Chinese criminal and international law, engaging in abduction, unlawful detention and gross libel.

Since 2005, Gao has naturally become a thorn in the side of the NSNB. As a human rights attorney, Gao has come to understand the persecution inflicted on Falun Gong practitioners in China and the true extent of the Chinese communist regime's unspeakable cruelty, violence and brutality. Large-scale crackdowns like these, targeting law abiding citizens have continued from the end of last century to the beginning of this one.

Having thoroughly investigation these crimes, Gao risked offending the ruling regime, demanding that they stop persecuting Chinese citizens who practice Falun Gong. Yet these demands have only served to jeopardize the lives of Gao and his family who have had to endure the brutality waged by the NSNB underground organization. The period from August 15, 2006 to April 12, 2007 has been the darkest eight months in the lives of Gao and his family.

For his bravery as a leading civil rights figure in China, Gao was honored with an ABOTA award, and earned a human rights award from Vienna as well. While Gao is particularly well known internationally, there are many human rights defenders in China working to create change. As they push for human rights, civil liberties that are the birthright of every citizen, their struggle has become the driving force to advocate rule of law, freedom and democracy in China.

Progressing from the initial stage of personal human rights protection, China's human rights laws have matured to a stage that allows for professional human rights protection. The emergence of a group of prominent civil rights representatives with legal expertise, such as Chen Guangcheng and attorneys Zhang Sizhi, Mo Shaoping, Gao Zhisheng and Zheng Enchong, are admired throughout the world for their conscience and courage. In a totalitarian regime like China, corrupt officials and brutal law-enforcement agents are not concerned with accountability and they fearlessly commit wrongdoing.

Meanwhile, thousands of victimized citizens have ushered in group civil rights protection and street revolts. With infringements on human rights escalating, human rights defenders are also becoming stronger. As the despotic dictators plunder our citizens of their property, they unknowingly cultivate more opponents and produce more powerful enemies.

The CCP's Political and Judiciary Committee, as well as the regime's National Safety and Security Bureau, prevented Gao from going abroad to receive his award. Yet their plan backfired as the hindrance led to even more influence than if they had allowed him to accept his honor.

Illustrating how China's human rights situation continues to gain attention, this occurrence also points to claims of human rights lawyers being suppressed by the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Events like these will eventually lead to the Chinese authorities becoming unable to continue their denial of any wrongdoing.

The NSNB continues to intimidate and threaten Gao because they fear he will expose the extent of the Falun Gong persecution as well as other cases of blatant human rights abuses to the international community. They also fear that Gao will become more confident and quicker to take action, or more influential once he makes connections within the international community.

More and more of China's civil rights defenders are participating in exposing the crimes of totalitarian dictators. Through their struggle for a rule of law, freedom and democracy, these civil rights defenders are naturally becoming more adept at their game.

Much like athletes training for the upcoming Olympic Games, these champions of human rights are working toward vanquishing their opponents, and as they overcome every obstacle they reach one step closer to achieving their ultimate goal.

[At my home in the BOBO Liberty City on the 43rd day of monitoring by the national security general squad of the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau.

Still 404 days to go by the arrival of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.]