Wife of Chinese dissident fears the worst
The wife of leading Chinese dissident and lawyer Gao Zhisheng has voiced fear over his whereabouts, say she has no way of knowing if he is still alive.
Geng He, who fled to the United States with the couple’s children in 2009, hoped the US would seek answers on her husband’s case during the current visit by China’s leader-in-waiting Xi Jinping.
Gao, who has defended some of China’s most vulnerable people including underground Christians and coal miners, was arrested in February 2009 and there has been no public sign of him except for a brief release in 2010.
“The government has lied to the family so many times in the past few years. They laugh at and play games with the family,” she said.
“The whole thing is very strange. I don’t have any way to know whether he’s still alive.”
Chinese authorities have said little publicly about Gao despite the focus on his case overseas.
In December, the official Xinhua news agency said that Gao had been sent back to prison for violating his terms or probation.
Gao’s brother Gao Zhiyi said he went last month to the distant north-western region of Xinjiang after receiving a letter saying Gao Zhisheng was jailed there, but said he was turned away.
Ms Geng said the family has had a series of mysterious contacts.
She said that police inexplicably telephoned Gao’s sister one day before the Xinhua report and asked if the long-missing lawyer was at her home.
She said Gao’s brother was also visited by a robed man who gave a business card describing himself as a monk, but who later identified himself as a police officer.
Asked what her message would be for Mr Xi, who is expected to be China’s next president, Ms Geng said: “Why is it that my husband, who has been trying to work for justice and people’s rights – things that are considered good in the US and many other countries – has been persecuted and even disappeared?”
Ms Geng broke down with emotion as she explained that she had trouble calling relatives back in China during the recent New Year’s season.
“When my family is too afraid to pick up my calls, I just feel terrible. I don’t feel I’ve done anything wrong, but they are so afraid,” she said.
Ms Geng plans to testify Tuesday about her husband’s case before the US government’s Congressional-Executive Commission on China, just after Mr Xi holds talks at the White House with president Barack Obama.