China's famous human rights lawyer, Gao Zhisheng, had his law office closed as punishment for writing three open letters to Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao appealing on behalf of Falun Gong. He has been followed by dozens of plainclothes police,24 hours a day for 85 consecutive days. On the evening of January 17, he was even boxed in by a car and a military vehicle, which almost caused him to have an accident. This incident has received global attention.
Around 8 a.m., Saturday, January 21, some Beijing residents came to see attorney Gao off on his trip. Neighbors asked him to take good care of himself, as they passed by. Hu Jia “led” two police officers to Gao's home around 9 a.m.
Gao said, “We value the sorrow of separation in the human world. I felt really sad when I saw Hu Jia rushing over to say good-bye. Such a small thin form is being followed by two tall strong police, one in plainclothes and one in uniform. I shook hands with Hu Jia and said to those two officers, 'One day you will regret what you did today. I tell you, we are non-violent people but your trailing us is a fundamental threat.'” Those two officers remained expressionless and followed Hu Jia when he left.
Gao returned to his hometown to commemorate his mother's passing, despite other people's advice to avoid going outside and to prepare against all eventualities. He arrived at his destination around 8 p.m. Gao accepted this interview, at a friend's request, to let concerned people know that he arrived safely.
Folks Voluntarily Saw Lawyer Gao Off
Phone calls concerning Gao's safety have continued to pour in from across the country. A person from Zhejiang Province called to say, “Lawyer Gao, I could not sleep well after seeing the news about you nearly killed in a 'car accident'. I must call you.”
People came from Sichuan Province and Tianjin City to visit Gao. They missed him as he had already left on his trip. Gao received their phone calls while he was on the road.
One call was from a police officer, who specifically said, “Lawyer Gao, there are many good and just policemen among the Chinese police. Not everyone is like those who have been following you. I have a group of police officers standing here with me at this moment. I must warn those who are monitoring our call that there are so many kindhearted and powerful police in China. Whoever dares to do anything to lawyer Gao Zhisheng, no matter where you hide, provided that it is a place on earth with people, we will hunt you down and we will be able to take you back.”
Lawyer Gao said, “This is the first time I have received a call from a police officer. Originally, I had some opinions and was somewhat disappointed with the police and the Chinese people. My experiences over the past few days have really shown me the kindness of the Chinese people. I have received so many phone calls these days. I do not know how they found my home or obtained my phone number, but I am truly touched. My gratitude extends until this day. Today, the sun was so warm leaving Beijing and I can only be grateful. Thank you all.”
Trailing Vehicles Temporarily Disappeared and the World Continues to Observe
Lawyer Gao described how vehicles followed him as he left home. By the time he drove 4 to 5 kilometers, there were about 6 vehicles trailing him, and even 9 vehicles when he moved on the highway.
A person traveling with Gao reported that one of the 9 trailing vehicles seemed to be in command, and the rest of the unlicensed vehicles seemed to take turns following Gao under its monitoring. At one point, a military vehicle was driving in front of Gao and another vehicle was driving beside him at 80 miles an hour down the highway. Several times the distance between the two vehicles was only about a dozen centimeters. However, Gao remained calm and eventually the vehicles withdrew.
Lawyer Gao indicated that those vehicles disappeared when he drove into Taiyuan City, and that he had not observed any tailing vehicles afterwards. The person accompanying Gao said that the quietness seemed strange. He hoped the government would allow Gao to fulfill his wish to quietly commemorate his mother's passing for several days.
Readers Want Lawyer Gao to Report His Safety Wherever He Goes
In recent months, the Chinese Communist regime's suppression has escalated and the Gao Zhisheng incident has gradually become the focus for domestic and foreign attention. Inside China, the usual state of not getting involved in others' affairs and keeping out of trouble has changed and people have started to openly support lawyer Gao. The American and French Embassies are also paying close attention to developments in the situation. Many people have asked for daily reports of his safety from Gao, no matter where he is.
It took Gao 10 hours to drive the usual 5-hour trip to his relative's home because both the highway and the national road had accidents on them. Gao may not be able to report his whereabouts daily, due to tiredness and inconvenience of communication. Our newspaper will continue doing follow-up interviews to satisfy our readers.