Chinese Dissident Lawyer Launches Prison Memoir Detailing Torture, Solitary

Gao-Zhisheng-305.jpg Gao Zhisheng during an interview at his office in Beijing, Nov. 2, 2005.

Dissident rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng, who remains under house arrest since his release from prison in August 2014, has launched a harrowing memoir of his time in prison, while vowing never to give up the struggle for human rights in China.

Gao, 52, launched his Chinese-language book in Hong Kong on Tuesday with the help of his daughter Grace Geng.

Titled in English A Human Rights Lawyer Under Torture, the book is Gao's way of continuing his resistance to rights violations under the ruling Chinese Communist Party, he told the Associated Press.

"This book is my way of posing resistance," Gao said in an interview via messaging app on Monday. "I wrote it secretly because I had to hide from the minders who watch me around the clock."

Gao's memoir details the torture he endured at the hands of the authorities during his time in prison, as well as three years of solitary confinement, during which he said he was sustained by his Christian faith and his hope for China.

Once a feted human rights lawyer, Gao is now living in a cave home in a remote village in the northern province of Shaanxi, and has been repeatedly denied permission by the Chinese police to see a dentist for treatment after losing several teeth to torture and neglect during his incarceration.

He has described being repeatedly tortured when he was secretly jailed at a "military site" during his last disappearance.

Albert Ho (L), chairman of the China Human Rights Lawyer Concern Group, and Grace Geng (R), daughter of dissident lawyer Gao Zhisheng, address the media at the book launch in Hong Kong, June 14, 2016.
Albert Ho (L), chairman of the China Human Rights Lawyer Concern Group, and Grace Geng (R), daughter of dissident lawyer Gao Zhisheng, address the media at the book launch in Hong Kong, June 14, 2016.
‘Extreme hardship’

Grace Geng, 23, told reporters that Gao currently lives in very difficult circumstances.

"He is in extreme hardship right now, totally isolated from the rest of the world in a tiny hamlet in the countryside," she told RFA on Tuesday at the book launch in Hong Kong.

"He has tried a number of times to get in touch with us and with the media by phone, but has totally failed to do so," Geng said.

Geng, who hasn't seen Gao in seven years, said she had trouble coming to terms with her father's absence after Gao's wife Geng He took the couple's two children to the United States after her husband's last 'disappearance' in 2009.

"At first I didn't understand why my father couldn't be with us," she said. "But everyone has their own ideas, and I think I need to respect his."

"After a while, I started to realize how big his ideas were, and how great his love for the Chinese people," she said.

Initiating change

Meanwhile, Gao told AP he misses his family deeply, but chose to remain in China in the hope of initiating change there.

"Once one has chosen to engage in combat, then there is no such thing as giving up," he said from his unknown rural location. "It is defeating to think about those things."

"My only worry is that I have affected the lives of my wife and children," he said.

"I'm indebted to them eternally, because I love them more than my own life, but I cannot attend to their needs now," Gao said.

Gao remains under 24-hour surveillance by state security police after his release from a three-year jail term for "incitement to subvert state power" handed down in 2006 and suspended for five years, during which Gao repeatedly suffered forced disappearances and torture.

Once highly praised by the Communist Party, Gao began to be targeted by the authorities after he defended some of China's most vulnerable people, including Christians, coal miners and followers of the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement.

Reported by Hai Nan for RFA's Cantonese Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.


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