Wife of Disappeared Chinese Rights Lawyer Vows to Continue Searching for Him, 5 Years On

By Mary Hong
Mary Hong
Mary Hong
Mary Hong has contributed to The Epoch Times since 2020. She has reported on Chinese human rights issues and politics.
August 20, 2022 Updated: August 21, 2022

Gao Zhisheng, “China’s conscience,” was forcibly disappeared while under house arrest in 2017. It’s been five years and his wife, Geng He, continues her search for the brave Chinese human rights lawyer.

Geng recently shared her thoughts about the search for Gao with the Chinese language edition of The Epoch Times.

She said she appreciated Gao’s wisdom and insistence on defying the Communist regime, and expressed that the search to find him will continue.

The Search Never Stops

Geng said that a friend specifically visited Gao’s hometown on Aug. 9 in the hope of finding some answers to his whereabouts. However, the visit was cut short because of very heavy rain.

The family has hired lawyers to search for Gao through various channels, such as, public security bureaus, the Beijing Lawyers Association, and the Department of Justice; but the lawyers’ requests were rejected for lack of a detention notice. Geng said that Gao was unwillingly taken away and the authorities did not issue any detention notice. None of the searches have managed to find a trace of him.

A Tormented Family

In 2009, Geng fled China with their 16-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son with the help of underground faith groups. They were offered refuge by the United States.

She has not contacted relatives in China for six months because each phone call just provides the regime more excuses to harass her family members.

“I didn’t know until recently that the regime confiscated the ID from each member of my family immediately after we left China,” she said, and the purpose was to restrict the family members from searching for Gao.

In China, without an ID, you can’t even buy a ticket for public transportation.

Geng’s seriously ill brother-in-law killed himself in April 2021 because without an ID, he wasn’t able to get prescriptions for his cancer treatment. The authorities refused to return the ID because of the phone calls Geng made to her sister.

Gao’s sister committed suicide in May 2020. She was depressed after years of harassment by the police and missing her younger brother—lawyer Gao Zhisheng.

Geng said that her family didn’t tell her what happened for a very long time, because the authorities would have created more horror for them if they told her the news.

Geng said, “I feel guilty for putting all the relatives into such a big predicament and hardship.”

Epoch Times Photo
Geng He, the wife of human rights attorney Gao Zhisheng, and their two children, son Tiangyu (C) and daughter GeGe (R) arrive in New York City on March 14, 2009. Gao’s family managed to escape China after years of abuse. (The Epoch Times)

Picture of Gao Made with Bullet Casings

On June 20, Geng posted a video on her Twitter account that showed her and her children working together to make a picture of Gao using empty bullet casings.

Geng said it’s a comfort for her, something the family can do while they try to rescue Gao. For five years, the anxiety and guilt “have become the norm in life,” she said.

They will go to Washington around Sept. 20 for a series of press conferences and unveil the work at the Victims of Communism Museum in Washington.

According to Geng, the picture of Gao is also somewhat her “brief answer” to her children.

Landmark in CCP Human Rights Abuses

Gao’s disappearance is considered a landmark case in the communist regime’s human rights abuses.

Under the CCP, people inside China are experiencing brutality every day.

“In order to cover up their crimes, the CCP persecutes dissidents with evil means on the one hand, and on the other hand, invades the world with chains of interest and corruption,” she said.

She wants to call on civilized countries to work together to stop the CCP’s violation of civilization around the world.

She will join an event in Texas honoring the 20th anniversary of the China Aid Association on Sept. 15. As an American citizen, Geng hopes to call on society to pay attention to Gao Zhisheng’s case when she is at the event.

China’s Conscience

Geng praised Gao’s dignity in defying the regime. She said, “He sees them clearly, and he won’t submit himself to the powerful; he won’t cooperate, or compromise.”

Geng mentioned a dialogue between Gao and an official, which she believes is worth knowing about.

During his imprisonment, Gao recorded incidents when the national security tried to work on him. She described briefly: They sent different people, tried various torture methods, and even befriended him with sugar-coated cannonballs, but none of those things worked.

Finally, a high official came to him and said that people mostly pursue either fame or profit; but Gao said he wanted neither. The official believed Gao’s behavior went against human nature.

Gao said to the official, “It is to preserve my name, not to cooperate with the powerful. It is inappropriate to say that I am not after money, because I had multiple properties in Beijing.”

Geng recounted their lives in Beijing. Gao never told her anything about the cases he dealt with as a lawyer. She learned about the various cases only after she left China. She said, “He wouldn’t tell me anything, fearing that I would worry.”

Epoch Times Photo
Grace (GeGe) Ge, daughter of human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng, speaks at a news conference on Sept. 17, 2014, outside the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. Next to her is Congressman Chris Smith (R-N.J.). (Tiffany Wu/The Epoch Times)

Victims of Human Rights Abuse

Gao became a victim of the CCP’s persecution because he handled multiple Chinese human rights cases such as Falun Gong adherents and victims of forced property demolitions despite warnings from and suppression by the Beijing Lawyers Association and the judiciary.

Finally, in 2005, the Beijing Bureau of Justice shut down his law firm and revoked his license to practice. He was detained in August 2006 and sentenced to three years in prison and five years probation for the crime of inciting subversion of state power.

During this period, Gao’s family was constantly harassed by the police, and the police even moved into the family’s home. During the 2008 Olympics, his daughter was prevented from attending school, a final move that forced Geng He and her children to flee China.

On Aug. 13, 2017, Gao suddenly disappeared while under house arrest.

For over five years, the regime has not answered the international inquiries of Gao’s whereabouts.

Haizhong Ning and Hong Ning contributed to this report.

Mary Hong
Mary Hong has contributed to The Epoch Times since 2020. She has reported on Chinese human rights issues and politics.