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Chinese human rights lawyer recounts torture
In December 2004, the noted human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng wrote his first open letter to China’s top leaders An Open Letter to China's National People's Congress. That was followed by an open letter to Hu Jintao, the head of the Chinese Communist Party, and Wen Jiabao, China's premier Stop Persecuting Believers in Freedom and Mend Your Ties with the Chinese People.
On December 12th, 2005, he wrote another open letter to Hu and Wen Why One of China's Top Attorneys Broke with the Communist Party. In September 2007, Gao wrote his Open Letter to the US Congress.
In November 2005, Gao’s law firm in Beijing was suspended. On August 15th, 2006, Gao was kidnapped. Later, he was arrested with the excuse of “inciting subversion of state power.” On December 12th, 2006, the court conducted a trial without allowing Gao’s attorney to present his case. In the same year, on December 22nd, Gao was sentenced to a 3-year term on the pretence of “inciting subversion of state power,” with 5 years on probation.
It has been over 2 years since all Gao’s connections to the outside world were cut off. In May 2007, the American Board of Trial Advocates granted Gao the Courageous Advocacy Award. In September 2007, Gao was kidnapped again and subjected to torture for 50 days, as recounted in this letter. Radio Free Asia has reported that on February 6th, last week, Gao was arrested once again.
Dark night, dark hood and kidnapping by dark Mafia
My account of more than 50 days of torture in 2007
These words from me today will be finally revealed one day. They will expose the true face of today’s China and will disclose the unimaginable heart and characteristics of the “ruling party” in China.
Of course, these words will inevitably bring unpleasant and even disturbed, embarrassed feelings to those global “good friends” and “nice partners” of today’s Chinese Communist Party – IF these global “good friends” and “nice partners” still have some concern in their hearts for the value of human conscience and morality.
Today, the suddenly well off CCP has not only gained more and more global “good friends” and “nice partners” but also has loudly declared such perverted slogans as “China is a country with rule of law.” Both will be disastrous to the progress and development of human rights of the Chinese people.
Around 8 p.m. on September 21st, 2007, the authorities notified me by word of mouth that I should attend a mind re-education talk. I found there were some unusual things happening this time. The secret police, who used to follow me very closely, kept a greater distance. I was walking down the street that day, and when I turned a corner about six or seven strangers started walking towards me. I suddenly felt a strong blow to the back of my neck and fell face down on the ground. Someone yanked my hair and a black hood was immediately pulled over my head.
I was taken to a vehicle and put in it. Although I couldn’t see, it seemed to me that it had two benches with a space in the middle. I was put in the space in the middle on the floor. My right cheek was on the ground. All of a sudden a boot stomped down on my face, holding me down. Many hands started searching all over me. My belt was pulled off and then used to tie my hands behind my back. At least four people put their feet on me holding me down.
About 40 minutes later I was dragged out of the car. My trousers were falling down around my knees and I was dragged into a room. No one had said anything at all to me until that moment. The hood was then pulled off my head. Immediately men began cursing and hitting me. “***, your day to die has come today. Brothers, let’s give him a brutal lesson today. Beat him to death.”
Then, four men with electric shock prods began beating my head and all over my body. Nothing but the noise of the beating and my anxious breathing could be heard. I was beaten so severely that my whole body began shaking uncontrollably.
“Don’t let him rest!” shouted a guy I later learned is named Wang. Then a very strong and tall (approximately 6' 1”) man grabbed my hair and pulled me up off the ground. Wang began beating me terribly on the face.
“***, you're not smart enough to wear black clothes. Are you a Mafia leader? Pull off all of his clothes.”
All my clothes were pulled off and I was totally naked. Wang yelled again, and someone kicked me in the back of my legs, and I collapsed to the floor. The big guy continued to pull my hair and forced me to lift my head to see Wang.
At this time, I could see that there were five people in the room. Four of the men were holding electric prods, and one was holding my belt.
“You listen, Gao, today these guys want nothing but to make your life worse than death. I tell you the truth, your issue is not only between you and the government.
“Look at the floor! There is not a single drop of water. After a while the water will be above your ankles. After a while, you will learn where the water comes from.”
While Wang was saying this, the electric shock prods were jabbed at my face and upper body, shocking me.
Wang then said, “Come on guys, deliver the second course!” Then, the electric shock batons were thrust all over me. And my full body, my heart, lungs and muscles began jumping under my skin uncontrollably. I was writhing on the ground in pain, trying to crawl away. Wang then shocked me on my penis.
My begging them to stop only resulted in laughing and more unbelievable torture. Wang then used the electric shock baton three more times on my genitals while shouting loudly.
After a few hours of this I had no energy to even beg, let alone try to escape. But my mind was still clear. I felt my body jerking very strongly when the baton touched me. I clearly felt some water sprinkled on my arms and legs as I was jerking. It was then I realised that this was sweat from me, and I realised what Wang had meant about the water.
It seemed that the torturers themselves were also tired. Before dawn came, three of them left the room. “We will come back later to give him the next course,” Wang said.
The two left in the room put a chair in the middle of the room and pulled me up and sat me in the chair. One of them had five cigarettes in his mouth. One man stood behind me and the man with the cigarettes was in front.
The man behind grabbed my hair and pulled my head forward and down. The other man used the cigarettes to fill my nose and eyes with smoke over and over. They did this with the utmost patience. After a while I didn’t have any feeling except for some tears dropping on my legs.
This continued for about two hours. Then some other guys came in replacing the previous two. My eyes could not see because they were now swollen shut.
The new guys started talking, “Gao, are you still able to hear with your ears? I tell you the truth, these guys are experts in cracking down on Mafia guys. They are heavies. This time they are chosen specifically and carefully by the higher authorities for this purpose.
“Can you hear who I am? My last name is Jiang. I followed you to Xiajiang after you were released last year.”
“Are you the one from Penglai City, Shandong?” I asked.
“Yes, your memory is still good. I told you, you would come back sooner or later. When I saw the way you behaved in Xiajiang, I knew you would be back. You even looked down on our police.
“Shouldn’t we help you learn a better lesson? You wrote that letter to American congressmen. Look at you, you traitor. What could you be given by your American lord? The American Congress counts for nothing. This is China. It is the Communist Party’s territory.
“Taking your life would be as easy as stepping on an ant. If you dare to continue to write your stupid articles, the government has to make its attitude clear. Now, did you see that attitude tonight?” Jiang spoke slowly.
I asked, “How can you treat taxpayers using such Mafia tactics? How could you face billions of Chinese citizens in the future?”
“That is why you deserve to be beaten,” said Jiang. “You are clearer in your mind than most people. Citizens count for nothing in China. Don’t talk about this term ‘citizens.’”
While he was saying this, someone else entered the room. I recognised the voice to be Wang’s. “Don’t talk to him with your mouth. Give him the real thing. These guys have prepared 12 courses. We only finished 3 last night.
“Your chief guy doesn’t like to talk and so after a while you will see that you will have to eat your own S*** and drink your own p**s. A toothpick will touch your **** [sexual organs].
“Don’t you talk about torture by the Communist Party yet, because we will give you a comprehensive lesson now!
“You are correct, we torture Falun Gong. Everything is true. The 12 courses we’re going to give to you were practised on the Falun Gong. To tell you the truth, I am not afraid that you will continue to write. We can torture you to death without your body being found.
“You stinky outsider [meaning, not from Beijing]! How dare you be so arrogant in Beijing? Let’s teach him the lesson again.”
In the following hours of torture, I passed out from time to time because of lack of water and food, and heavy sweating. I was lying down on the cold floor naked. I felt several times someone come and open my eyes and shine a torch in them to see if I was still alive.
When I would come to, I smelt the strong odour of stinky urine. My face, nose, and hair were filled with the smell. Obviously, but I don’t know when, someone had urinated on my face and head.
This torture continued until around noon on the third day. I don’t know where I got the strength to endure, but somehow I struggled to get away from their grasp and began to slam my head against the edge of the table.
I was shouting the names of my two children (Tiangyu and GeGe) with such a sad and remote voice while trying to kill myself. But my attempt did not succeed. I thank Almighty God for this. It is He who rescued me. I truly felt God dragged me back from that state and give me my life.
My eyes were full of blood, though, because of my head-banging. I fell on the ground. Immediately, three people sat on my body. One was on my face. They were laughing. They said I used my death to try to scare them. They said they have just seen this too many times.
They then continued the torture again until that night. I could not see anything with my eyes anymore. I could still hear my torturers though, and again they gathered after they had dinner.
One of them came and pulled my hair, dragging me up. “Gao, are you hungry? Tell us the truth!”
I said, “I am very hungry.”
“Do you want to eat? Tell us the truth!”
I said, “I want to eat.” Immediately, they began slapping my face repeatedly, a dozen times or more, and I again collapsed to the ground. A boot stomped on my chest, and someone shocked me on the chin with the baton. I screamed. Then someone put the baton into my mouth.
“Let’s see how different your mouth is from others. Don’t you want to eat? You said you are hungry. Are you worthy?” The baton was in my mouth but was not turned on. I was wondering why?
“Gao, do you know why we didn’t destroy your mouth?” Wang said. “Tonight these guys want you to talk the whole night. We want you to talk about nothing except about how you are a womaniser. You are not allowed to say you are not one. You are not allowed to say there are just a few women, either. Don’t forget any details. You can’t leave any details out. These guys like this. We have slept and eaten enough, it’s your time to talk.”
“Why didn’t he talk? Beat him up brothers!” Wang shouted. Three batons began shocking me. I was crawling all over trying to get away and was still naked. After more than 10 minutes, I was shaking uncontrollably again.
I begged them. “I didn’t have an affair. It’s not that I don’t want to tell you.” I heard my voice was quivering.
“Are you becoming a fool?” said Wang. “Let’s use the baton to light you and see if you start talking.”
Then two people stretched out my arms and pinned them to the ground. They used toothpicks to pierce my genitals. I can’t use any language to describe the helplessness, pain, and despair that I felt then. At a point like that, language and emotion do not have the power to explain. Finally I made up stories, telling them about affairs that I had had with four women. After more repeated torture, I had to describe in detail how I had sex with each of these women. This continued until dawn the next day.
At that time, I was dragged to where I had to sign the transcript of my confession about my affairs. “If we send this out, you will become stinky dog’ s *** in half a year,” Wang said loudly.
After I was released, I learned that the day after the torture the interrogator named Sun Huo informed my wife of “the truth” they had learned about my affairs. My wife told them: “I do not need the government’s help to get to know my husband. In my eyes, he is still the one who wrote 3 open letters to urge the government to stop the persecution of Falun Gong.”
After being tortured for days, I often lost consciousness and was unable to determine the passage of time. I don’t know how long had passed. A group of them were preparing to torture me again.
Another guy came in, though, and rebuked them. I could hear it was a deputy director from the Beijing PSB. I had seen him many times before. I thought him to be a good person.
I could not see him though, because my eyes were still swollen. My whole body was beaten and covered in bruises. He sounded angry because of my condition. He found a doctor to attend to me. He said he was appalled and surprised. He said, “This torture doesn’t represent the Communist Party!”
I asked him, “Who directed this?”
He didn’t reply. I asked to be sent back home or even just back to prison. He didn’t reply. He brought my torturers back into the room and rebuked them. He ordered them to buy clothes for me and give me a blanket and food. He told me he would try his best to either get me back to prison or back home.
As soon as the deputy left, Wang began cursing me. “Gao, you're even dreaming about going to prison? No, that is too easy. You won’t have any chance to do that as long as the CCP is still in power. Don’t even think about that.”
That same night, I was transported to another location, but I didn’t know where, since I had a black hood over my head again. I was continuously tortured there again for another 10 days.
Then one day, they put the hood on me again, and I was put into a vehicle. My head was forced in between my legs, and I had to remain that way for more than an hour. The suffering was more than I could stand, and I wanted to die.
After another hour, at a new location, the hood was removed. Four of the previous five torturers were not there. But, I saw the same group of secret police who used to follow me.
From then on, the physical torture stopped, but emotional torture continued. I was told the 17th Communist Party Congress was starting and that I had to wait for the higher authorities’ opinions about my case.
During that time, some officials came to visit my cell. Their attitude was softer, and I was also allowed to wash my face and brush my teeth.
Some officials proposed to me to use my writing skills to curse Falun Gong instead, and that I could charge whatever I wanted for doing that. I said it is not a technical problem but an ethical problem.
“So, if that is too hard, then write articles praising the government, and again charge whatever you want,” they suggested.
Finally, they proposed, “If you write that you and your family were treated well after prison and that you were fooled by Falun Gong and Hu Jia, things will go well. Otherwise, how can you find an end to your suffering? Think of your wife and children.”
In exchange, I did write an article that said the government treated my family well. In that article, I explained that I wrote the open letter to the US Congress because I had been fooled by Falun Gong and Hu Jia.
Before I was released to go home, though, I was brought to Xian city to make a phone call to Hu Jia.
On the date of the mid-autumn festival, the authorities asked me to call my wife and comfort her since she was holding a protest and trying to commit suicide over the government’s treatment of our family.
The content of the call was all designed by the authorities. (Later I learned that my wife’s response was also choreographed.) I could still not open one of my eyes at that time due to the previous torture. Since the call was being taped, I was told to explain that my injurioes were self-inflicted.
In the middle of November 2007, after I got home, I learned that my house had been thoroughly searched again, without a single document or search warrant having been produced. During those more than 50 days of horrifying torture of my body and spirit, I had many strange feelings. For example, sometimes I could really hear “death” and sometimes I could really hear “life.”
On the twelfth or thirteenth day of my kidnapping, when I could again partially open my eyes, I saw my body was in a horrifying condition. Not a single square centimeter of my skin was normal. It was bruised and damaged over every part.
Every day while I was being held, the experience of “eating” was unusual. Whenever I was at the point of starving, they would bring up “mantle” [steamed bread] and offer it to me. If I would sing one of the three famous revolutionary Communist Party songs, I could have some bread.
My deepest desire was that I wanted to live until that was no longer possible. My death would be torturous for my wife and children, but at the same time I didn’t want to dirty my soul. But in that environment, human dignity has no strength. If you don’t sing these songs, you will continue to be starved, and they will continue to torture you, so I sang.
When they used the same tactic, though, pressuring me to write articles attacking Falun Gong, I didn’t do it. But I did compromise by writing my statement saying the government didn’t kidnap and torture me and that they treated my family well. I did sign that document.
During these more than 50 days, more horrible evils were committed than I have told here. Those evils are not even worthy of any historical records by any human governments. But those records will further enable us to see clearly how much further the leaders of the CCP are willing go in the CCP’s evil crimes against humanity in order to protect its illegal monopoly on power! Those evils are so dirty and disgusting that I don’t want to mention them at this time and perhaps will never mention them in the future.
Every time when I was tortured, I was always repeatedly threatened that, if I spelt out later what had happened to me, I would be tortured again, but I was told, “This time it will happen in front of your wife and children.”
The tall, strong man who pulled my hair repeated this over and over during the days I was tortured. “Your death is sure if you share this with the outside world,” he said. This was repeated many times. These brutal, violent acts are not right. Those that did it, themselves, knew this clearly in their hearts.
Finally, I want to say a few words that won’t be liked by some folks. I want to remind those so-called global “good friends,” “good partners,” so-called by the CCP, that the increasing degree of brutality and coldness against the Chinese people by the CCP is the direct result of appeasement by both you and us (our own Chinese people).
Written on November 28th, 2007, at my besieged home in Beijing. Authorised to be released to the international community on February 9th, 2009.
This letter was first published by the China Aid Association. Epoch Times gratefully acknowledges permission to use China Aid's translation, which Epoch Times has edited. Gao Zhisheng provided this letter with the title: "Dark Night, Dark Hood and Kidnapping by Dark Mafia—My account of more than 50 days of torture in 2007”