Renowned Chinese human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng has been missing since 2017. Gao’s wife Geng He and their young son and daughter fled to the United States 11 years ago. They haven’t seen Gao since then and have not heard from him in the last three years.
“Day after day, month after month, year after year—on August 13, it will be three years—every day I yearn for a call from him, and want to tell him about the hardship of raising our children… Where is Gao Zhisheng? When can I expect this call?” Geng He told The Epoch Times in a recent interview.
Geng said his whereabouts and life are uncertain and she hoped that European political leaders and others in the international community would pay attention to his case.
After the CCP virus outbreak this year, Geng said she became even more worried about Gao.
“I worry that during the pandemic they [authorities] will infect him with the disease, and then let him disappear by this way. Every day, I worry. As soon as I stop working, I immediately think of him. It suddenly jumps into my mind, and then I call his older brother, but there is still no news.”
Geng said she considers the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) itself as a virus that has infected the whole world. And through this pandemic, the world has come to see the CCP more clearly, she said.
She also expressed gratitude to European leaders for paying attention to Gao’s plight.
“Let these people who share the same values work together to change China! I hope the international community will pay attention to his fate,” she said.
“I think Europe has really learned about the CCP through this epidemic, and hopefully [they] will know that the persecution of people like Gao Zhisheng, who have been trying to change China for the sake of the Chinese people, still continues,” she added.
The European Union has recently criticized the Chinese regime for spreading disinformation about the pandemic and exacerbating the public health crisis.
Known as the “Conscience of China,” Gao, a self-taught lawyer, represented Chinese citizens who experienced persecution, including practitioners of the spiritual group Falun Gong. Since late 2004, he repeatedly sent letters to senior CCP officials, demanding changes to the suppression of Falun Gong and other oppressed groups.
Since 2006, Gao has been repeatedly kidnapped by police, severely tortured and imprisoned. His wife and children have also been threatened by authorities. In 2009, Geng He fled China with her children in a daring escape. They now live in the United States.
After Geng’s escape, Gao was taken away by police from his home in Shaanxi Province, and his whereabouts was unknown for nearly two years. In 2011, he briefly appeared in Beijing and was interviewed by the Associated Press about the cruel torture he had suffered in detention.
In December 2011, the Chinese authorities issued an English-language announcement, saying that Gao was sent back to prison to serve another three years. Gao was then missing for another 22 months. He was released from prison in 2014 and directly placed under house arrest.
Gao went missing again in August 2017. Since then, Geng has called Gao’s older brother many times for news or information about her husband, but according to the brother, the authorities are very evasive.
“His older brother frequently visits the police station in Yulin city, Shaanxi, but one moment, they will tell him [Gao] is in Beijing and need to ask for instructions from higher-ups. The next moment, they say he is in Yulin, and that they don’t know where he is either,” Geng said.
After Gao’s last disappearance, lawyers Zhang Lei and Yan Xin visited the Beijing Prison Administration bureau and other departments to find out which prison Gao Zhisheng was being held in, but they were refused on grounds that they didn’t provide a notification letter that was sent to family members. However, according to Geng, their family never received any written notice about Gao’s detention. The lawyers also visited the police bureaus of Yulin City and Jia County, and received no answers there either.
Geng said that both Gao’s and her own families in China have been harassed by local authorities.
“The harassment, the intimidation, the persecution of our family hasn’t stopped these ten years,” Geng said. She said the family’s ID cards had been confiscated by authorities to prevent them from leaving the area and campaigning on Gao’s behalf. Her brother-in-law, who was terminally ill with cancer before he died in 2015, often needed prescription painkillers. To be able to purchase the drugs, he had to borrow his ID card from the local police station every time and send it back afterwards.
Geng said authorities also tricked her mother into handing over the keys to Geng and Gao’s house in Beijing. Officers told her mother, who was taking care of their home, that they needed the keys because they had to fix the sewer in the building, Gao said. They have not returned the keys since taking them about eight years ago, she said.