Read the article, written by Zhang Min, reporter and talk show host for Radio Free Asia – July 24-30, 2010.
A Look at the Gangsterization of China’s Public Power through the Re-Disappearance of Attorney Gao Zhisheng”
Full PDF of the Translation| See Original article 中文
By Zhang Min, Radio Free Asia
July 24-31, 2010.
Report by Zhang Min, “Journey of the Soul” talk show host for Radio Free Asia.
*After a brief reappearance in the spring of this year, Gao Zhisheng is missing again*
Rights defense attorney Gao Zhisheng, who had been missing for over 400 days after being kidnapped by the police (on February 4, 2009), spoke on the phone to the outside world for the first time on March 28 of this year.
On April 7, soon after Gao Zhisheng had participated in a brief interview with a reporter from the Associated Press in Beijing, his cell phone was found to be “out of service.” He had only used it for ten days. Since April 20th, Attorney Gao Zhisheng has once again lost contact with the outside world, and his relatives don’t know where he is.
On July 19, I called Gao Zhiyi, Gao Zhisheng’s eldest brother, who still lives in their hometown in Northern Shaanxi.
Program host: “May I ask whether you know anything about the current situation (condition) of Attorney Gao?”
Gao Zhiyi: “I know nothing about it whatsoever.”
Program host: “How long has this been the case?”
Gao Zhiyi: “For several months now.”
*A Brief Introduction to Attorney Gao Zhisheng and His Case*
Rights defense attorney Gao Zhisheng, who has represented numerous clients in high profile cases, such as the citizen defense an oil field dispute in Northern Shaanxi, Falun Gong cases, and other rights-related cases, wrote three open letters from December 2004 to December 2005, to the highest leaders of China, demanding that they stop persecuting Falun Gong practitioners.
In November, 2005, the Beijing Shengzhi Law Office, where Gao worked as director, was shut down by the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Justice. On December 22, 2006, Attorney Gao Zhisheng was sentenced to three years in prison on the charge of “inciting the subversion of state power,” with a reprieve of five years; he was further deprived of his political rights for one year. Following this sentence, he returned home.
In September, 2007, Gao Zhisheng was once again arrested. After he was released, his article “Black Night, Black Hood, and Kidnapped by Black Mafia,” in which he described the torture he endured during the detention, was released to the public. His account included horrific events, such as when they (his captors) inserted toothpicks into his penis.
Gao Zhisheng has won many human rights awards, including the Courageous Advocacy Award from the American Board of Trial Advocates. Early in the morning of February 4, 2009, Gao Zhisheng was kidnapped by the police from his hometown in Northern Shaanxi, in front of his relatives. In early 2009, Gao Zhisheng’s wife, his son, and his daughter escaped from China and arrived in the U.S .in March of the same year. Later, they were granted political asylum by the U.S. Government.
After Gao Zhisheng was kidnapped by the police at his native place, the press spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China, the police, and other sources gave many different (and often conflicting) accounts of Gao’s condition. Until March 27 this year, the outside world was kept in the dark concerning any accurate information on Gao Zhisheng. On March 28, Gao’s phone number was suddenly published on the Web; the outside world could now call him on the phone–though he could not call out from his cell phone, as he wished.
Ten days later, on April 8th, when people tried to call him, his phone was out of service. After April 20, no relatives or friends of Attorney Gao Zhisheng have heard any news of his condition or whereabouts.
*Gao Zhisheng’s eldest brother: “When I don’t get any news of my brother, [it makes me] want to go to Beijing again to look for him.”*
The program host asked Gao Zhiyi: “How are you feeling now, and how does your family feel about it?”
Gao Zhiyi: “I haven’t been able to get through to him on the phone for over a month now. If this continues for much longer, I’ll have to go to Beijing. You see, we live in constant worry and fear.”
Program host: “How was he when you saw him last?”
Gao Zhiyi: “He came back and visited my mother’s grave on Qingming Day.”
Program host: “Were the police with him?”
Gao Zhiyi: “Ah…No. However, I can only speak as to what it was like inside our house. I don’t know what I would say if I had been outside.”
Program host: “How many days did he stay at home?”
Gao Zhiyi: “Two or three days.”
Program host: “What did you talk about?”
Gao Zhiyi: “We talked about daily life, our brothers and sisters, how this sibling and that sibling are doing, etc.”
Program host: “Did you notice any changes in his appearance?”
Gao Zhiyi: “I saw that…In the past, he had a crew cut. Now, he is bareheaded.”
Program host: “How was his health?”
Gao Zhiyi: “He said his health was okay.”
Program host: “Before he left, did he tell you clearly where he was going?”
Gao Zhiyi: “He said he would go back to Beijing. Ten days later, he called. After that, there was no news of him. Today, we still don’t have any news about him. We thought he was finally free, but then there was again no news of him.”
Program host: “Having had no news of him for three months, how do you feel now, and what do you think his situation is?”
Gao Zhiyi: “As his brother, I certainly don’t feel well, now that no one knows his whereabouts. Our parents have both passed away, and we brothers and sisters are closely knit. Some things…. He was only 12 when our father passed away. I can’t say I have done the duty or played the role of a father well. How can I possibly be in a good mood now? My phone service was down for 30 to 40 days.”
Program host: “How did the phone service break down?”
Gao Zhiyi: “Actually, I don’t know how the phone service broke down. I can’t tell you how. I simply couldn’t get through. When people called me, they heard the recording “the phone is in use.” Anyway, I couldn’t call out.”
Program host: “How long has your phone been in service since it was fixed?”
Gao Zhiyi: “Ah. Just a few days. Not yet 10 days.”
Program host: “Did you say just now that if you don’t get any news of Attorney Gao, you may go to Beijing to look for him?”
Gao Zhiyi: “Not only there’s a possibility, but I’ve already made preparations of going there. If there’s some news of him, then I am not going there. I will definitely go there if there’s no news of him after some time.”
*Gao Zhisheng’s sister: “Three months ago, Gao Zhisheng called me twice and there was no news of him after that.”*
I then called Gao Zhisheng’s sister in Shandong and asked: “Have you heard any news of Attorney Gao recently?”
Gao’s sister: “No. No news at all.”
Program host: “When did you begin to have no news of him?”
Gao’s sister: “It’s been three to four months [since I last heard from him].”
Her phone’s signal was not very good.
Program host: “Have you seen Attorney Gao this year?”
Gao’s sister: “Where can I see him?”
Program host: “Did he not go to Shandong?”
Gao’s sister: “No.”
Program host: “When did you last have contact with Attorney Gao? Under what conditions? What did he say to you?”
Gao’s sister: “We talked on the phone twice around Qingming Day.”
Program host: “What did he say then?”
Gao’s sister: “He asked me how my health was. I said I was fine. I then asked him how his health was. When we talked on the phone, [it seemed like] there might have been someone else by him.”
Program host: “You mean someone was with him while you were talking on the phone?”
Gao’s sister: “Yes.”
Program host: “Where did he say he was?”
Gao’s sister: “He said he had gone to Xinjiang to see his father-in-law. After that, I could no longer contact him. He might have been in Beijing at that time. He went back to our hometown and visited my mother’s grave during Qingming Day. When he was in our hometown, my brother called me.”
Program host: “Where was Gao Zhisheng when he called you?”
Gao’s sister: “He called me once when he was in our hometown and once when he was in Beijing.”
Program host: “This means he went back to Beijing after he visited his hometown in
Northern Shaanxi. Then, he went to Xinjiang (his father-in-law’s place). Is that what you said?”
Gao’s sister: “There’s too much noise in this cell phone. I can’t hear you very well.”
Program host: “I can’t hear you very well either. How are you feeling now?”
Gao’s sister: “I worry a lot. Yet, I can do nothing about it. What’s the use of worrying?”
The phone was suddenly disconnected at this time.
After July 20, I tried to call Attorney Gao Zhisheng’s relatives in China on many occasions. I could never get through to any of them.
*Attorney Li Heping: “The last time I saw Attorney Gao Zhisheng was on April 8.”*
Attorney Gao Zhisheng went back to his residence in Beijing in April of this year and stayed there for a few days. Li Heping, a rights defense attorney in Beijing, went to visit him. On July 19, I interviewed Attorney Li Heping. He said, “The last time I saw Attorney Gao Zhisheng was on April 8.”
Program host: “When you saw him, did he tell you whether he had gone to his hometown in Northern Shaanxi?”
Li Heping: “It seems he visited his mother’s grave on that trip. He has done this [before].”
Program host: “What did you talk about during that phone conversation?”
Li Heping: “He spoke a little about what he had gone through, since he went missing more than a year ago.”
Program host: “According to you, had he changed much since you saw him last time?”
Li Heping: “There was a big change in his appearance. Before [our meeting], Attorney Gao was a charming and handsome man. This time, I felt that there was something twisting on his face, and that is a clear sign that he has suffered a lot. An international reporter took a photo of Gao Zhisheng. It’s very sad to look at it.”
Program host: “Was his appearance, in real life, close to what he looks in that photo?”
Li Heping: “It was just like that. However, Attorney Gao was in a very good mood [at the time], but his health…. He once said that he sometimes vomits during the night. Once, his vomiting was very serious. Some time ago, several media organizations reported on his specific condition, and I have also verified that. So, permit me to not repeat it here.”
*Attorney Li Heping: “Gao Zhisheng’s father-in-law called me and told me to look for Gao Zhisheng. So far, no one has been living at his [Gao’s] residence.”*
Program host: “How did you lose contact with Gao Zhisheng later on?”
Li Heping: “On April 21, his father-in-law called me and said Gao Zhisheng had arrived at his place on April 20 from Urumqi and that he was with a few police officers. He said he would go to Beijing and he would tell him (his father-in-law) after he got back from Beijing. However, no one heard from him after that. His father-in-law told me to look for Gao Zhisheng. I went to his house several times but couldn’t find him. There has been no news of him for the past three months. He is missing.”
*Attorney Li Heping: “The re-disappearance of Attorney Gao Zhisheng and what the rights defenders have experienced recently shows that China is not a country under rule of law.”*
As for the re-disappearance of Attorney Gao Zhisheng, Attorney Li Heping says: “This is very abnormal. Gao Zhisheng is a responsible human rights attorney with a conscience, for whom the entire world shows concern. When the Chinese government so blatantly makes him disappear in this way, it shows the entire world that China is not a country under rule of law, and that any person in China can disappear for whatever reason.”
In light of Attorney Gao Zhisheng’s re-disappearance, Attorney Li Heping discussed the rising concern that the personal safety of other people cannot be guaranteed. He said: “Now, there’s no information on Attorney Gao, even when so many people are concerned about him. If an ordinary person in China can be kidnapped and go missing, does this mean that this will happen to more people in more places in China? I think the answer is an absolute yes.”
“A few incidents have happened recently,” Attorney Li explained. “On June 15, Liu Dejun, a rights defender from Beijing, was beaten by police while his head was covered with a hood; then he was thrown into a valley. This incident was later exposed on the Internet.”
“At 8:30 on the evening of July 16, Liu Shasha was openly kidnapped by four men in front of the gate of Renmin University in Beijing. They covered her head with a black hood. While they beat her, they tried to strangle her with a towel around her neck. She was choked until she lost consciousness. After that, they tied Liu Shasha’s hands behind her back with several layers of wet towels and threw her to the floor, with her face toward the sky. In this position, it was impossible for her to breathe.”
“After Liu Shasha had been strangled almost to death, the men removed the wet towels and immediately put a mask on her, which covered her nose and mouth. The mask was smeared with mustard oil, so it was hard for Liu Shasha to breathe. When she suddenly breathed hard, she inhaled the mustard oil into her nose and mouth. This is a type of very brutal torture.”
*Attorney Li Heping: “More cases of blatant violent persecution are a concrete demonstration of the ‘Gangsterization’ of public power.”*
Attorney Li Heping: “Whether it is the case of Gao Zhisheng or that of Liu Dejun or Liu Shasha, they all happened in Beijing, and happened not far from each other in time. Many people have become familiar with these incidents because of the Web, but there are many incidents that people are still not aware of. I was personally involved in such a case on September 29, 2007, when several people covered my head with a hood and drove me in a vehicle, without a license plate, to a basement room in a suburb, where six or seven people beat me with electric batons. Such intentional violence occurred so blatantly in Beijing, the capital city of the People’s Republic of China, with no repercussion. I believe this is not a good sign.”
This is typical evidence of the gangsterization of public power. If gangsterization is not behind it, why do the police never crack these cases [of torture and violence] and arrest the offenders? After I was beaten, I reported it to the police. So far, the police still have not cracked the case. Liu Shasha also went to report the incident to the police. I don’t think the police will ever crack her case.”
“There is also the issue of theft. In my case, I lost an external hard drive and a hard drive in my computer. They also took away some other objects. The same thing happened to Liu Shasha. Her USB drive and cell phone were stolen by these people. In Attorney Gao’s case, things were even worse. As he exposed in his article “Black Night, Black Hood and Kidnapped by Black Mafia,” he was tortured for over 50 consecutive days. I think such a thing is very rare in the world today. Not only should the countries in the West denounce this, the Chinese people should all the more denounce it. This is an act of gangsters.”
“The criminals within the government organs must be brought to justice. Otherwise, people may think that once the entire country is gangsterized, who will be able to live in such a society anymore?”
Attorney Li Heping: “Gao Zhisheng’s case is very representative of the status of life for Chinese citizens. Hu Jintao, Wen Jiabao and Zhou Yongkang should be held liable for the disappearance of Gao.”
The topic returned to Gao Zhisheng’s case.
Attorney Li Heping: “Gao Zhisheng’s case is a typical one. It shows the status of life of Chinese citizens in China—a place where Gao’s license to practice law could be revoked at will and he could be stalked. Police could live in his house and stalk his family at will. Even his 13-year-old daughter was stalked when she went to school. She almost had a nervous breakdown and the family was forced to escape to the U.S….”
“Things did not end there. Gao Zhisheng has been missing for so long. Citizens of the entire country have realized that with this issue unaddressed, the moral legitimacy of our entire country could collapse overnight. Who would be willing to take orders from an underworld organization? The government should consider this matter now and shouldn’t let things go on like this!”
Li Heping turned the topic toward the legal system: “Let’s talk about the law. Whether this law is right or wrong, Gao Zhisheng was charged with ‘inciting the subversion of state power.’ He has already been sentenced to three years of imprisonment, with a reprieve of five years. During this probationary period, a citizen should also have legitimate rights, and he or she shouldn’t be stalked like this. This is an act of the state. I believe the Chinese leaders at the highest level should be held liable for this. Hu Jintao, Wen Jiabao and Zhou Yongkang should all be held liable for this.”
*Attorney Teng Biao: “Depriving Gao Zhisheng of his freedom is a criminal act.*
Mr. Teng Biao, a rights defense attorney based in Beijing with a Doctorate of Law, said: “On February 4 of last year, Attorney Gao was kidnapped by the police and disappeared. In April of this year, out of diplomatic concerns, the authorities let him have an interview with the Associated Press and a few days of freedom. Some of his friends in Beijing went to visit him, and Gao Zhisheng himself understood the gesture very clearly. The freedom he enjoyed in these days was carefully contrived, and there was nothing he could do about it. If he didn’t agree to it, he would lose even these few days of freedom. It is unthinkable that a citizen who is a rights defender was kidnapped by the police, and was then made to disappear in this way. As for the people who have illegally deprived of and restricted the personal freedom of Gao Zhisheng, whether they are from the Ministry of State Security or Domestic Security Protection Squad or other agencies, they have definitely committed a crime, by violating the “Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China.”
Attorney Teng Biao: “The authorities now suppress the rights defenders using underworld (gangster-like) tactics, by totally ignoring the law. Under these circumstances, the disadvantaged social groups will find themselves in an even worse plight.”
Teng Biao: “During those few days when he stayed in Beijing, he was allowed to see his friends. It so happened that I was not in Beijing at that time. When I came back, he had gone missing again. That’s why I failed to see him this time.”
Program host: “Now he is again nowhere to be found. What do you think of that fact and ofGao Zhisheng’s case overall?”
Teng Biao: “Beginning in 2005, there have been clear and obvious signs that many human rights activists have been illegally treated in various ways. Some of them have been sentenced to imprisonment or Re-education through Labor through judicial means, and more and more cases show that rights defenders are being intimidated, beaten, kidnapped or simply [forced to] disappear. All these are violent acts of crime outside the confines of the law. Sentencing these people through the formal judicial procedures carries with it a high price tag to the authorities, and they can’t use it too much. Therefore, they are now more and more willing to deal with these rights defenders through underworld means to achieve their purpose of intimidation and punishment.”
Program host: “What is the direct consequence and possible impact of doing things in this way?”
Teng Biao: “This is telling the outside world that the government may brush aside the law and ignore it in dealing with rights defenders and dissidents. No matter how the people in the outside world appeal, they [the Chinese authorities] will continue these acts outside the parameters of the law. Therefore, if there are no more effective ways to address this issue, the plight of the rights defenders in China is disconcerting.”
“With the recent kidnapping and beating of Liu Dejun, Liu Shasha and other people, I think the international community should be alarmed by these cases. If the Chinese authorities really want to suppress rights defenders with these underworld means in this type of power structure, it will be hard to find any effective means to address it. If the personal safety of the rights defenders is not guaranteed, other disadvantaged social groups that the rights defenders have tried to help and protect will soon face a more dire plight. In this case, the human rights status of the entire Chinese state may experience a retrogression.”
*Attorney Teng Biao: “All the ways of defending rights that we have tried have produced no results. The growth of civil society is irrepressible. Those who are trying to stem the tide of the human rights movement will surely be put on trial by history.”*
Program host: “According to you, are there any ways by which we can move the status of rule of law in China, and the situation of rights defenders there, in the right direction?”
Teng Biao: “In fact, we have tried all the possible methods—for example, the protest of my colleagues inside China. We published the true facts [of many cases] on the Web and the media has gotten involved. Human rights institutions have appealed and denounced these acts. We have also sued and reported to the authorities in some cases, trying to incorporate the investigation of this type of crime into the judicial procedure. So far, however, these measures have produced few results.”
Program host: “In this situation, what do you as a legal professional have to say on the current judicial status and the situation of rights defenders in China?”
Teng Biao: “Judging from the tendency in the past few years, the suppression the rights defenders suffer is becoming more and more severe. However, the growth of a civil society in China is irrepressible. On the other hand, the rights defenders will not stop their work in human rights activism just because of various types of suppression. The growth of forces of the Web, NGO, rights defense attorneys, and house churches will not be governed by the will of the authorities. Therefore, we hope the relevant agencies of the government will realize this general trend and give up as soon as possible. Such conduct goes against the tide of the international human rights movement and ethical values.
Otherwise, they will not only fail to achieve their goal of intimidation, but they will also bring themselves to a future trial by history.”
*Attorney Jiang Tianyong: “I, along with other people, have gone to Attorney Gao’s residence. No one has seen he has gone back home.”*
As for the re-disappearance of Attorney Gao Zhisheng, I again interviewed Mr. Jiang Tianyong, the rights defense attorney based in Beijing. He said: “I couldn’t see Attorney Gao Zhisheng in late March or early April of this year, but I called the number some people gave me (published phone number) and got through to him. He said he was in Mt. Wutai. Later, while I was on a business trip, I heard that he had gone back to his residence in Beijing and that he had met some of his friends like Li Fangping, Li Heping, Yang Zili…. I also heard that the Associated Press interviewed him and learned his mental state. The last piece of information on him I got was that he said good-bye to his father-in-law in Urumqi on April 15 (some say it’s April 20) and that he told his father-in-law he would call him when he arrived in Beijing. He told his father-in-law that if he didn’t call him, he should call Attorney Li Fangping to look for him. When Attorney Li Heping received a call from his father-in-law, he went to Attorney Gao’s residence. He was simply not at home.”
In this, we can see that Attorney Gao Zhisheng had already had a hunch that he may not be able to go back to Beijing and he was prepared for that. He doesn’t have personal freedom. Even now, none of his family members or friends knows where he is. In the meantime, I have gone to his residence several times. Other friends of his have also gone there several times. Huang Yan said she has also gone there, but no one was there. We have also asked people near his house and they said they have not seen him come back home. From April 15 till now, Gao Zhisheng has again been in the state of missing.
Attorney Li Heping: “Attorney Gao should be staying at home. Kidnapping him and making him disappear again and again by the authorities violate the Chinese law.”
Program host: “Do you think whether such a treatment of Attorney Gao violates the current Chinese law? If yes, how does it violate the law?”
Jiang Tianyong: “Gao Zhisheng is in the probationary period. Even by the current Chinese law, he should have his basic rights and limited personal freedom. He should have rights to see friends and his family has the right to know where he is. He should also have the basic right to handle his own affairs. Yet, he is now completely under some other people’s control. This is absolutely a violation of the Chinese law.”
Attorney Gao Zhisheng was missing for over a year last year. In March and April of this year, he once again appeared in people’s range of vision. While he was missing, the information on him from the Chinese authorities, no matter whether it was from the police to his family, or from the spokesman of the State Council, spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the Chinese Embassy in the US, was basically lies. Attorney Gao’s case has not been handled in accordance with the law. During Gao Zhisheng’s probationary period, he should be staying at his house where he mostly resides, not going here and there as the police dictate.”
Attorney Jiang Tianyong: “There has been no remedy to the many “black hood” incidents. The public power is trampling the law. I call it “Black Hood State.”
Program host: “What do you think Gao Zhisheng’s case means to the current status of rule of law in China?”
Jiang Tianyong: “After Gao Zhisheng experienced the “black hood” incident, such an incident also happened to other attorneys—Li Heping, Huang Yan and Teng Biao. Not long ago, Liu Dejun, Liu Anjun and Liu Shasha also experienced the “black hood” incidents. From now on, when I take interviews in public places, I’ll call this country ‘Black Hood State.’”
“This ‘Black Hood State’ has completely lost its rule of law. Attorney Gao Zhisheng has not violated the law, but the ‘Black Hood State’ sentenced him for the so-called ‘inciting the subversion.’ Even if he really incited the subversion, he should be treated like this.”
“Under the pressure of the international community and the people of China, they had to let Attorney Gao appear in public this last spring. After that, he disappeared again. It is absolutely a violation of the law to treat him like this. We all would like to know where Attorney Gao Zhisheng is, but there is no way we can find it out. There is almost no remedy for this. Though the law stipulates it clearly, but we don’t have any remedy.”
“Now, let’s see this: Whose rights are guaranteed in this country? They are a bunch of people with public power who possess the right of enforcing the law. They trample on the law at will and have turned this country into a “Black Hood State.” I feel it is scary. Many people are living in terror. There is no guarantee on the rights of anyone of us. There is no guarantee on the rights of attorneys either.”
*Attorney Jiang Tianyong: “It is not wrong to beat a person, but we beat the wrong person. Where is the law of this Black Hood State? Who can feel safe in this country?”*
“Recently, the wife of the deputy director of the Provincial Stability Maintenance Office of Politics and Law Committee of Hebei was brutally beaten by a group of people who dashed out from the courtyard of the Provincial Party Committee. The incident caused quite a repercussion in China. The “stability maintenance” people mistook the wife of a high-ranking “stability maintenance” official for a petitioner and brutally beat her. Finally, in their apology, they said: “There was a misunderstanding on our part. I didn’t know the person I beat was the wife of such a high-ranking official.” We can see here that in their eyes, violence in beating a person itself is not wrong. They simply beat the wrong person.”
“You can imagine there is no law in this Black Hood State. What is the use of the current law? I believe such things will happen to other officials. Neither the common people or the officials have guarantees.”
“Under this circumstance, we really hope the whole world pays attention to the illegal and willful trampling of human rights in this country and the fact that Attorney Gao Zhisheng has once again disappeared.”
Program host: “According to you, voices from what entities can stop this phenomenon from continuing? During Gao Zhisheng’s case, how has the situation of rights defense attorneys been?”
Jiang Tianyong: “What Attorney Gao Zhisheng has been experiencing is not the treatment unique to him. This is the experience of all the rights defenders and rights defense attorneys. So far, many rights defense attorneys have been beaten and kidnapped in various ways. They have lost their jobs and are threatened, harassed and their family are harassed, too plus other forms of persecution. In this, we can see the Black Hood State is very afraid of rights defenders. Though these rights defenders do things strictly in accordance with the regulations set by the state’s rulers, they are still afraid of the suppression on them. Therefore, we see this extremely hypocritical, weak and scary side of the Black Hood State. We also see that the rights defenders in China are in a dire and difficult situation as they are suffering various forms of suppression, physical torture and intimidation…”
*Attorney Jiang Tianyong: “We are full of respect for Attorney Gao for the sacrifice he has made. More and more people are standing firm on their ground. This state must not continue to degenerate into the gangsterization.”*
Program host: “What is the current status of your attorney’s license and other related issues?”
Jiang Tianyong: “There has been no development on the rehabilitation of my personal attorney’s license and I don’t see any hope. I think there’s hope for my attorney’s license only when this country goes through fundamental changes and is no longer a “Black Hood State.” I have now totally lost the hope and I don’t expect this Black Hood State to restore my attorney’s license.
On the other hand, we have really found that more and more people have come to realize it and the rights defense attorneys have not cowered because of what they have experienced in the hands of the authorities. Besides the rights defense attorneys, people from various walks of life have joined the ranks of rights defense. Most people are full of hope for the future. This Black Hood State must not continue to degenerate into the gangsterization.”
Program host: “Now Attorney Gao Zhisheng continues to be missing like this and people don’t know where he is. People ask the authorities and don’t get any answers. What impact and possible impact do you see if things go on like this?”
Jiang Tianyong: “To tell you the truth, for quite some time, some people felt horrible at what Attorney Gao Zhisheng and his family have gone through. Now, we are still full of concerns for the life of Attorney Gao Zhisheng. We don’t want to see such a thing happens to more people. However, on the other hand, we have seen clearly this reality: Some people among the rulers of this Black Hood State are really ruthless and they hope their underworld means can scare some people into not engaging in affairs of rights defense.”
In fact, more and more people come to realize and are aware of the sacrifice Attorney Gao Zhisheng and his family have made. People are indeed grateful to them and are full of respect for them. Some friends of us have said: “In choosing this road, Gao Zhisheng has staked himself and his family on the rights defense in China. More and more people have come out of fears. People are aware that cruel things may lie ahead, but they have not cowered back because of this. These people include those who have been involved in Black Hood incidents such as Liu Shasha, Liu Dejun…. They have not said that they will no longer engage in their activities because of the scare tactics.”
“In the words of Liu Shasha, she was really full of fear in the beginning when she was experiencing this kind of thing, including the first time she was tortured. She felt she really couldn’t endure that. She was once forced to shout “Reporting!” as demanded by her torturers. Yet, she continued to be tortured. She said she can now endure it and when she came back, she no longer felt fears. Instead, she was full of anger and wanted to sue them. I believe many people are like that. After a torture and a Black Hood incident, people have gained more courage.”
“We are paying close attention to the fate of Attorney Gao and are appealing for him. On the other hand, what has happened to him will not make many of us stop our work for our cause.”
Attorney Jiang Tianyong: “The future development of China depends on how the common people think.”
Program host: “If people don’t abide by the law and the law becomes empty talks and the rule of law collapses, what harm will this bring to the country? Generally speaking, what are the pros and cons of this according to you?”
Jiang Tianyong: “From what Gao Zhisheng has experienced and many other things that have happened from 2009 till now, people no longer believe that this Black Hood State can achieve the rule of law by itself. However, people wouldn’t accept such a fate. The future development of China depends on how the common people think, what kind of a country they really want. It depends on how many people have awakened.”
“I think the rulers of this Black Hood State are educating the people and more and more people are awakening. The rulers claim they want to build a country under the rule of law, but we are becoming more and more suspicious and disappointed with this claim. However, we are not disappointed with the future because I think they will not necessarily forever control the direction of the development of China.”
“I want to emphasize here once again that all people should pay attention to the fact that Attorney Gao Zhisheng has once again made to disappear. Gao Zhisheng also said when he reappeared this time that when he re-disappears, he will face more brutal torture. He was warned before arrangements were made for him to see us. Now that he has been missing for so long, this may mean that those who have warned him has done to him what they warned him about, i.e. making him disappear again. It is very possible that they are torturing him with more brutal means. That’s why I hereby once again call on the people of the world to pay attention to the fate of Attorney Gao Zhisheng!”
*Attorney Jiang Tianyong: The experiences of Ms. Huang Yan.”
Immediately before the end of this interview, Attorney Jiang Tianyong made a special mention of Ms. Huang Yan of Beijing. Because of her concern for Attorney Gao Zhisheng and his family, Huang Yan has been under police’s surveillance for many years and she has been persecuted many times. In recent days, she has been harassed, burglarized and driven out again and again by the police or the people incited by the police.
Jiang Tianyong said: “As a person who pays attention to Gao Zhisheng and supports him, Huang Yan has come under the watch of the police. Now that Huang Yan wants to live her own life and does some business, it seems she is not forgotten by the authorities. That group of people often harass her and even order thugs and thieves to harass her. The police and other people often exert pressure on her landlord to drive her out.”
In the recent two months, Huang Yan makes phone calls and sends out text message once every a short period to tell people the cruel encounters she has experienced. This does not include the many incidents a long time ago in which her family was tortured. Two days ago, she made an emergent call to me. Calls from Huang Yan are all for emergent help. This shows she is being persecuted by the local underworld thugs and the police behind the scene. If they don’t even spare a person who merely pays attention to Attorney Gao’s plight, we can imagine how they torture Attorney Gao himself out of their hatred for him.”
I asked Attorney Jiang Tianyong who was once under the surveillance: “Are you under surveillance now? How is your freedom to move around?”
Jiang Tianyong: “There are no people around me now, but my phone is heavily bugged. Sometimes, it is even hard to turn off the phone. I have no control over my cell phone. The only thing I can do is plug out the battery.”
Attorney He Junren: “The situation of the rights defenders are getting worse and worse. Human rights organizations of the world should double their efforts to express their dissatisfaction and concern.”
Albert Ho Chun-yan, Chairman of the Hong Kong-based China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group who has always been paying attention to Attorney Gao Zhisheng and the situation of rights defenders in mainland China said: “The recent re-disappearance of Attorney Gao shows he not only has no freedom now, but he is the target of the government’s suppression. His recent brief appearance is CCP’s limited response to the external pressure. This is the response to the outside world, including the human rights organizations in the US, the UK and the UN just to prove that Gao Zhisheng is still living.”
“It is very obvious that the authorities are not afraid of the strong criticism by the media on their suppression of Gao Zhisheng and many other rights defense attorneys and their strategies. In a word, the status of the rights defense attorneys is very bad and it is worsening.”
Attorney Zheng Enchong is still being house arrested at home. The rights defense activist Guo Feixiong now cannot get the normal treatment a prisoner serving his time should get. There is no way Chen Guangcheng can obtain a medical parole. His health is very bad.
Attorney Albert Ho also talked about the Beijing-based woman attorney Ni Yulan who lost her freedom twice for defending the rights. He said: “They wouldn’t even let her find a place to stay in and her house was torn down by force. Her basic livelihood is threatened. She has met great difficulties in trying to rent a house like an ordinary person.”
“Therefore, generally speaking, we pay great attention to and are very concerned about China’s systematic suppression on attorneys. We feel that instead of achieving any progress in the rule of law, there has been an obvious retrogression in the past few years. I believe that the human rights organization in the world should double their efforts in expressing our strong dissatisfaction and concern.”
Program host: “May we know whether there are any special things that the Hong Kong-based China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group is planning to do recently?”
Albert Ho: “Recently, we are still keeping in touch with the attorneys in mainland China. We have constantly got news from them, such as the issue of passing the annual inspection by the attorneys. Some attorneys are still unable to reregister. Here in Hong Kong, we have held many meetings of exchange and some workshops in the hope of strengthening their knowledge in the tradition of the legal system in our area. We have also strengthened our contact with the human rights attorneys in Taiwan in the hope that the attorney organizations in Taiwan can give more support to the attorneys in mainland China.”
*Pastor Bob Fu: “What Attorney Gao Zhisheng has encountered is the epitome of the status of the legal system in China and the plight of all rights defenders and it is a tragedy of the society.*
Pastor Bob Fu, president of the US-based China Aid Association who has always been paying attention to the situation of Attorney Gao Zhisheng delivered a speech on the re-disappearance of Attorney Gao Zhisheng: “Gao Zhisheng was a very successful attorney. He then enthusiastically joined the ranks of rights defense attorneys. After that, he got into a series of incidents: In the beginning, he was constantly harassed.
Then the business at his Shengzhi Law Office of Beijing that he founded himself was suspended and the office was shut down by force. He was then arrested, sentenced, tortured and then was made to disappear. After that, he was made to re-appear and re-disappear. A series of these ups and downs Attorney Gao Zhisheng has experienced is in fact an epitome of the entire legal system of China and the plight of all rights defenders. Attorney Gao Zhisheng is merely a concentrated representation of this phenomenon. To a great extent, he is a representative tragic figure. In a sense, he is the most vivid representative in this aspect. His courage is both a reflection of the legal system and the social system in China and also a result of the special design by some extremely reactionary people in power within the Chinese government. To summarize these in one sentence, it is the sorrow of the Chinese nation and a tragedy of the Chinese society.”
*Pastor Bob Fu: “What Attorney Gao Zhisheng has experienced is a mockery and trampling on the law and the international law. People of the world with sense of justice and conscience should pay attention to it.”
Program host: “At this time, people outside the circle of the Chinese authorities do not know where Gao Zhisheng is. What does this mean to the Chinese society and the safety of the citizens in general? What impact does it have?”
Bob Fu: “This is the greatest mockery and trampling on the Chinese constitution and the Chinese law. It is specifically stipulated in the Chinese constitution that the personal safety and the personal freedom of Chinese citizens must not be violated. Various legal clauses in China all emphasize specifically that law enforcement must be conducted in accordance with the law and the country must be ruled in accordance with the law, etc. However, what they do in reality is the greatest mockery and trampling on all these, from the grand concepts to the microscopic legal technicalities.”
“In a sense, Gao Zhisheng himself has become a reflector for both the rulers and the law enforcers of whether the law must be followed and the law must be enforced in the legal system of China. This means he has been ‘made’ to do all he has done. None of these things was done out of his own will. The word ‘made’ to do something is a big reflector of the law enforcers and the rulers. From this reflector, people can see whether the essence of the legal system is implemented in China, whether all people are equal before the law, whether it is true that the issue of human rights has been included in the constitution of China, whether the human rights of Chinese citizens are not violated and are protected by the state…, whether these clauses are used selectively, whether they are enforced in the system of docile citizens and subjects, or people are ‘enforced,’ ‘forced’ to be mistreated and tortured if they speak the truth for the healthy development of China. These include international law, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that China has signed or some international human rights regulations that have binding force… Gao Zhisheng’s case and his sufferings are also a mockery and trampling on the international laws.”
“Therefore, I think people all over the world who have a sense of justice and conscience and who are really concerned about the rule of law in China should pay attention to this issue.”
Program host: “With Gao Zhisheng in the current situation, what has China Aid Association where you work done? What are you planning to do? Is there anything else that you want the outside world to know?”
Bob Fu: “As a Christian human rights organization, we have never given up fighting for Gao’s rights. We have launched the website www.FreeGao.com in the US, the public domain, media and in the world.
So far, we have collected over 130,000 signatures. We have also submitted our letter to the Chinese embassy and the US Secretary of the State, calling on our supporters to write letters to the US Congressmen and the UN secretary –general Ban Ki-moon to pay attention to Gao Zhisheng’s case.”
The above talk show program in Journey of the Soul from Radio Free Asia was edited, hosted and produced by Zhang Min in Washington D.C.
 On August 6, 2010, the American Bar Association named Gao Zhisheng the International Human Rights Lawyer of the Year. In his absence, Gao’s daughter, Geng Ge, accepted the award on his behalf, at the annual conference held in San Francisco. Gao has also been nominated twice for the Nobel Peace Prize, in 2008 and 2010.