This will make some rough reading: But that’s one of the things the Chinese government has going for it: Its abuses make very rough reading, so people tend to turn away. And get on with the business of making money, somehow, off the PRC.
Really, who wants to hear about organ harvesting when there’s gold in them thar hills? (And there’s less gold than eager Westerners think. This is one of the themes of Ethan Gutmann’s enlightening book Losing the New China: A Story of American Commerce, Desire and Betrayal.)
There is a man named Gao Zhisheng, and he is a defense lawyer. He has defended Falun Gong practitioners, “house church” activists, and other targeted citizens. He himself has been targeted. His wife has written,
On the night of September 21, 2007, my husband, with a black hood thrown over his head, was kidnapped and brought to an unknown location. For 59 days, many people tortured and ravaged him in all kinds of ways, including beating him with an electric prod, inserting bamboo sticks into his reproductive organs, holding lit cigarettes close to his eyes and nose, etc., so that his eyes would burn and he would be forced to inhale smoke. My husband told me later that he was in such unbearable pain at the time that his sweat, blood, and other bodily fluids covered the floor. Among the reasons the authorities gave for tormenting my husband was that he had written to the United States Congress.
Gao’s wife, Geng He, wrote those words in a letter to Congress of her own. More about that in a moment.
On January 9 of this year, Geng He took Gao’s and her two children and escaped, making their way to Thailand and eventually to the United States. I will now quote from the group Human Rights in China: “On February 4, Gao was seen taken forcibly from his hometown, Xiaoshibanqiao Village in Shaanxi Province, by more than 10 state security policemen. He has not been heard from since.” In other words, he has been disappeared.
Geng He’s letter to Congress is dated April 23. You may read it in full here. And I would now like to provide some excerpts:
I have no doubt that [Gao’s most recent capture] was the Chinese government’s retaliation for our escape. In view of his horrific experiences in the past, I’m extremely worried about my husband’s safety.
Honorable members of the U.S. Congress, as a wife I am terribly distressed and doubt our decision to leave China.
Think about that mental state. Think what the Chinese government, and other totalitarian regimes, does to human beings.
Though I had been mentally prepared to face adversities alongside my husband, our children, ages 16 and five, have already been unable to go to school due to the kidnapping, intimidation, and beatings by the authorities. My daughter even ran away from home. Our relatives and friends are worried that she will become mentally disturbed from her fear. If we had not left that horrific country, their whole lives would have been ruined. However, that my husband was prepared to be tortured for the sake of our escape is like a knife in my heart. My children ask me every day, where’s dad? I’m alone and isolated here and can only appeal to you to pressure the Chinese government to stop persecuting my husband and tell the world his whereabouts and condition.
My friends tell me that this great nation of the United States, which regards human rights as a cornerstone of its foreign policy, would never just sit and watch my husband suffer and do nothing.
I’m afraid her friends are wrong: terribly, grievously wrong.
Thus they encouraged and advised me to write to you to seek help. I remember that, when my husband was still free, whenever major human rights cases arose in China, he would always look towards the United States. He always said: The United States is the cornerstone of world freedom, human rights and social order; the United States would not tolerate despotic rule and the wanton abuse of the weak and the masses.
Does the United States deserve such beliefs about it, such faith in it?
In the past, whenever I was worried about my husband because of his challenges against tyranny, he would often console me by saying, evil cannot win over good, the ones upholding justice will always have help. He said that if one day he would be persecuted because of his ideals and sense of justice, the people in the world who believe in justice would stand by him and support him. I know that he would still harbor this light and hope in his heart while enduring various torments in prison! When faced with a huge machine of tyranny, this hope may seem small and weak but it is extraordinarily steadfast, because his faith in the United States is at the core of his hope and expectation.
I don’t know, ladies and gentlemen: Given our record — and given hard present-day facts — I’d like to think that Gao has a much higher hope and expectation.
More from the letter:
Now, I am willing [to] do all I can to not let him down! I hope that he can gain the help of the great United States through you. That is the faith and hope he holds in his heart while enduring all forms of torture in that dark prison cell!
Honorable members of the U.S. Congress, please help me support my husband, lawyer Gao Zhisheng, so that the evil forces will know that there is resistance against persecution; so that the millions of Chinese suffering this despotic rule will know that the United States is concerned about their human rights situation, and will not give up. My husband would be more resolute because of this, the Chinese people would feel inspired because of this, and China and the world would eventually transform because of this!
Many thanks for your concern!
“Congress, please help . . . so that the evil forces will know that there is resistance against persecution.” That is one of the strongest, frankest, clearest statements I have read in a very long time. All I can say is: Good luck, lady.
And Geng He joins Avital Sharansky, Christina Fu (wife of Jianli Yang), and others in the pantheon of brave spousal caring. There is no love like a marital love — which is why Beethoven’s Fidelio is about as high as you can go, in that particular artistic field.