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Gao Zhisheng allowed family visit in remote prison

01/04/2013

By Irene Luo (Epoch Times) It’s been over a year since human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng was detained in the remote Shaya Prison in Xinjiang Province, and only recently was he allowed to meet his family for the second time. They had not been permitted to visit since March 2012.

Gao Zhisheng. (Epoch Times)

Gao, sometimes calling “China’s conscience”, was arrested, harassed and tortured from 2005 onwards after defending persecuted practitioners of Falun Gong, a traditional spiritual discipline, and other groups targeted by the regime.

Gao’s eldest brother told Sound of Hope (SOH) radio on January 18th, that he had been trying to visit his detained brother for a long time, and only after he threatened to appeal in Beijing did the authorities allow his family to visit Gao in prison.

Gao’s wife, Geng He, who currently resides in the United States with their children, maintained that Chinese communist authorities are afraid her family would expose her husband’s situation to the international community if they visited him.

His younger brother and father-in-law travelled far to see him, but were only granted a half-hour visit under strict monitoring and control.

During the short meeting, Gao could only ask about the family’s wellbeing. His only words for his wife were to raise the children well and don’t worry too much about him.

Geng told Radio Free Asia (RFA) that prior to their visit, the prison had forbidden them to ask any questions about Gao’s treatment; violating this rule would lead to immediate termination of the visit, she said.

During the meeting, Gao’s brother asked whether he could read newspapers or watch television but was abruptly interrupted before Gao was able to speak; a guard said that Gao wasn’t allowed.

Geng told RFA that the family made great efforts to get a chance to see him. The journey across the remote region of Xinjiang to the prison is harsh and takes around 10 days. The most important aspect of the encounter was to verify that Gao is still alive.

Sound of Hope Radio interviewed several well-known Chinese human rights activists after the short prison meeting.

Beijing human rights activist Hu Jia said that over the past eight years, Gao Zhisheng has constantly suffered brutal torture by the Chinese Communist authorities.

Hu said Gao is locked up in a place referred to by the Uyghur locals as a “terrorist prison”.

“The evil of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is fully implemented by the propaganda system and the politics and law system. Regardless of whether they are the Internet and media censors, or the political and local police that block petitioners, evil is being implemented through these various individuals. So when we are faced with these evil people, we must understand, fundamentally, it is the evil of the system, the evil of the CCP,” Hu said.

According to human rights lawyer Tang Jingling from Guangzhou, who is familiar with the CCP’s persecution of the prisoners of conscience, Gao has very likely been suffering from “strict control” and torture.

Tang added that “strict control” as implemented by guards is “very cruel”: the victim is forbidden to speak to anyone, or is often in solitary confinement in a small cell, or sometimes in a cage or small space, where they cannot stand up, or sit or lie down. Over time it is agonising, Tang said.

Source: Five friends and I successfully hid and passed on a truth-clarification letter about the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in China to the overseas website Minghui, or Clearwisdom, which is dedicated to exposing the Chinese regime’s persecution of Falun Gong to the rest of the world. Like the person whose plea made headlines around the world, I was also in Liaoning Province, China. Twelve years ago, I was imprisoned in Huludao City Forced Labor Camp, Liaoning, for 2.5 years for practicing the meditation discipline of Falun Gong. My companion Cao Yuqiang, who was eventually tortured to death, and I were watched 24 hours a day by two criminals, so that we could not exchange information regarding the persecution of Falun Gong. One day, I came up with the bold idea to find a way to communicate information about the persecution to the outside world. The first obstacle we faced was that we didn’t have pen or paper. So, as more and more information was passed on to me, it became quite a challenge to memorize everything! To improve my memory, I repeated the information to myself every day, since I couldn’t communicate regularly with Cao Yuqiang. One day, out of the blue, Cao told me he had found a refill for a ball-point pen. I suspected he must have gone through a great deal of trouble to procure it, but I did not have the opportunity to ask him for any details at that time. Now I had a pen, but there was still the question of what to write on. I finally realized that the only possibility was toilet paper, and to avoid being caught, I would have to write the message after midnight. I had to keep strengthening my mind to overcome fear and anxiety as any negative thoughts could lead me to give up. Questions and doubts plagued my mind: “Would this work? How could we get the information out? Would I be able to withstand the torture if it was discovered? Had other prisoners found out about my plan? Were they waiting to catch me in the act?” I was certain that if my plan were discovered, I would be tortured mercilessly with electric batons. It was really quiet after midnight. While laying in bed, I slowly pulled out the pen refill and toilet paper. When the prisoner on duty to watch me turned away, I began to make tiny adjustments to my position, creating the smallest possible space underneath my quilt. Whenever the prisoner on duty turned towards me, I had to immediately stop and be still, for I would need time to deal with any unexpected action on his part. If my mission were somehow compromised, I would have to swallow my written note immediately and secure the ball-point refill. At last, this truth-clarifying article to expose the persecution was complete; I had written 2,800 words. I carefully carried it on me, but now I had to figure out how to get it to the outside world. A few days later, a prisoner asked me, “Can I help you somehow?” I was surprised and also suspicious, “Is he trying to fool me to hand over my article to the guards? Could I trust the words of a prisoner?” I thought for a few minutes and then I said “I have to go to the restroom.” Walking down the long corridor, I kept on thinking “What should I do?” It was difficult to make a decision, but I had to make up my mind. In the restroom, I gathered up my courage. Then I looked at the prisoner, and said, “Could you give me your cigarette box?” He handed it over, I took out my letter, put it inside, and said to him: “Please send it out to the address inside. Please.” Over the next few days, I was extremely nervous, for I did not know what had happened to the letter. I kept thinking, what should I do if the guards suddenly rush into my room with electric batons? This thought lurked in my mind, overwhelming me like the ocean, a very deep and quite suffocating feeling. But heaven be praised, the letter safely made it into the hands of a friend, and he immediately sent it to the overseas Minghui website! With this detailed report about several Falun Gong practitioners being persecuted, the cause of justice was righteously served. Looking back, I know that I was extremely blessed. If it hadn’t been for divine intervention, I suspect no one would have ever learned about the story—mine or the other Falun Gong practitioners’. Unfortunately, 4 of the 20 people in this story were later killed by the authorities in the persecution. The only thing I can do now is to feel encouraged: in the face of great adversity, I had the courage and conscience to overcome evil. I also realized from this experience that I should never give up hope in any situation.