The legal practice of the well-known human rights attorney, Gao Zhisheng, was forcibly closed down for one year on November 4 by the Beijing Judicial Bureau, because of an open letter he sent to the Chinese government appealing for Falun Gong, says Gao. The Judicial Bureau, on the other hand, says they closed his office for “not applying for a change of address for his legal practice and illegally providing legal documents to other attorneys.”
The Bureau said that if these infractions are not corrected, Gao’s license to practice law would be revoked. Earlier, Shanghai’s human rights attorney Guo Guoting encountered problems, and now, Gao is punished for defending the rights of Falun Gong practitioners.
Gao told the media, “I call for all friends, those who are powerful and concerned about a China, to speak out and to take action. China is doomed in establishing any civilized values, this is not Gao Zhisheng’s personal problem, this is about Chinese people having no other route to retreat to.”
The CCP Closes Gao's Legal Practice
Since Gao published his open letter with the title “Stop Persecuting Believers of Freedom and Mend Your Ties with the Chinese People” to Hu Jingtao and Wen Jiabao on October 18, officials in different departments have continued visiting him to have a “talk” every day. They have warned Gao not to be involved in the most sensitive topic in China.
At the same time, Beijing’s Judicial Authorities have done a comprehensive investigation of all his files and an accounting of his books.
On October 26, the Deputy of the Attorney Management Office of the Beijing Judicial Bureau, Chai Lei, made a phone call to Gao. Gao reports that in the phone conversation, Chai autocratically set forth two points and one request. Because Gao exposed the persecution of Falun Gong, he said, “First, it severely damaged the entire image of all the attorneys in China. Second, it was against an attorney’s professional morality and integrity! If you are willing to cooperate with the government, you must retract the letter! If you don’t retract it, you know what is going to happen, which I don’t need to mention….”
Gao replied, “This is an insult!”
The Bureau said if the problems stated are not corrected, Gao’s right to practice law will be revoked. The formal announcement will go into effect 15 days from issuance. The Bureau also rejected Gao’s request to complete his defense on several ongoing human rights cases, such as the cases of Professor Zheng Yichun, the oil field of northern Shangxi Province, and one case in Xingjiang.
Gao considers suspension reasons as entrapments.
Regarding the accusations, Gao replied, “They are obviously entrapments!” Gao described the situation with his change of address. He moved his office; his staff applied for a change of address at the Judicial Bureau several times; but the officials never processed it. They did not issue an approval, nor did they reject the request. Now, this issue is being used as one of the “crimes” Gao never committed.
As to “illegally providing legal documents to attorneys of other legal offices,” Attorney Gao told the reporter, “The Beijing authorities were particularly interested in a written notice from Fanyu, Guandong Province, in which Mr. Wen Haibo, an assistant of Gao, requested to meet with Guo Feiqiong. The document Wen provided to the police in Guanzhou City had only Wen’s signature on it. However, on file at the Beijing Judicial Bureau, they had the signature of attorney Tang Jinglin. Thus, this was used as the second reason to shut down Gao’s office. Wen has affirmed that he did not sign Tang’s name and Attorney Tang also denies signing his name on the document. As a result, there are only two possibilities: the signature was either added by the police office in Guanzhou City or the Beijing Judicial Bureau.
Attorney Gao said, “I think this is not a hasty, “on the spot” action. They have calmly planned this. This persecution against me thoroughly exposes the CCP’s absolute lawlessness.”
Gao says the real issue is the Falun Gong appeal letter
Attorney Gao said that although the authorities did not publicly acknowledge their real motive, the actual cause was his the open letter to Hu Jingtao and Wen. In talks with the authorities, Gao obviously felt that behind these departments, a huge and powerful organization has control over the entire country.
Gao said, “When I took a look at the investigation file, it is….. All the cases and legal procedures I submitted in different places in the country during the past two years are here. It clearly shows that it is absolutely not an ordinary local investigation. The Beijing City Government doesn’t have the power, authority or wherewithal to carry-on such a broad investigation. It must be a nationwide investigation at a higher level of government that targeted me!”
Judging from these materials, Gao believes that the authorities have attempted to find specific evidence of possible crimes in the cases Gao handled, but they searched in vain. As a result, they fabricated these two “infractions” to oppress him.
Gao Zhisheng: “I’ll Fight to the End.”
After announcing the penalty to Gao, the official at the Judicial Bureau told him, “You only have one chance to appeal right now, and you will be given no opportunity to appeal later.”
Gao replied firmly, “All right. You write all my words down: First of all, this is one more crime against the civilized world using illicit power. Secondly, such an arrangement is a flagrant persecution aimed at a professional lawyer and a common citizen. Thirdly, I’ll engage in struggle on all fronts and fight to the end.”
The official responded, “As long as you choose not to pay attention, your own safety will be in question.”
Gao answered, “If you represent the government by talking to me, I’ll change my tone and answer you: I have been ready for imprisonment at any time!”
Gao noted that during the whole process, no officials on the scene would look him in the eyes. Gao said, “I saw the weakness and helplessness in their eyes. I felt pity for them.”
“I knew this day would come sooner or later.” Gao said. “When it was announced, I indeed felt sad for a moment. I am worried about my wife, who won’t be able to bear the suffering. The second is for the ten lawyers who came from other provinces just to protect me and follow me all the time. However, they innocently suffer the same persecution; this is most sorrowful.”
When asked what he will do now, Gao answered, “I’ll still offer assistance to those who need help whenever I have the time.”
Prompt Response and Support from Many
Within two hours after the news that Gao’s law office was closed by the Judicial Bureau, Gao received more than 60 calls from all over China and overseas, including America, Japan, Hong Kong, Shangdong Province, Kuanxi Province, Zejiang Province, Xingjiang Province, Jiangxi Province. Many people expressed their support to him over the phone, although he didn’t even know them.
Many people expressed that the CCP regime picked on Gao Zhisheng intentionally, so that they could produce terror in the legal community. Supporters sent him a strong message, “Previously, we supported you by reading your articles privately, but now we will stand up openly, stand up together with you, and support you in public.”
Gao said, “I thank all local and overseas friends who are concerned for me. I really appreciate these people who I don’t know at all.”
He said, “I know what I am facing and suffering is the price I must pay to be a Chinese citizen. Confronting such a tyrannical regime, any Chinese person would be in constant danger; but my chance of suffering danger is a little greater. However, compared with compatriots who lost their lives and relatives, I’m still pretty fortunate.”
Gao said, “After publishing the open letter, I felt the CCP might brush me off, and stop persecuting those compatriots because our request did not go very far at all. Nonetheless, they chose the shameful direction everyone didn’t want to see.”
He said he felt angry that, “President Bush still chose to visit China. This regime is so lawless at this time, being the enemy of its own citizens; in fact, they are challenging the civilized world and humanity. Under such circumstances, what’s the purpose of Bush’s visit to China?”