'My Father Never Spoke About The Persecution He Suffered'

china-grace-geng-photo-600.jpg Grace Geng, daughter of Chinese human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng, speaks in Taipei to introduce her father's book, June 16, 2016.
Photo courtesy of Zhong Guangzheng, Taipei

Grace Geng, 23, is the daughter of dissident rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng, who remains under house arrest since his release from prison in August 2014. She recently traveled to Hong Kong and Taiwan to launch her father's book, Stand Up China 2017, a harrowing memoir of his time in prison.

Gao, 52, has said the book is his way of continuing his resistance to human rights violations by the ruling Chinese Communist Party.

Overseas rights activists say that since the book launch, Gao has gone missing from the rural cave-dwelling where he was guarded round the clock by China's state security police. Geng spoke to RFA in a series of recent interviews, which are translated and extracted here:

I remember that the state security agents would live in our house and watch the family, and every day they would search my schoolbag before I left for school to see if there were any 'dangerous or forbidden items' in it. They would mess it up, and then I'd have to tidy it up again while I was on the bus. That was how each day would begin. Seven state security agents would sit waiting for me outside the classroom, and they'd stop me from joining everyone else outside in the playground at recess. They even took the door off the girls' toilets so I couldn't escape.

After my father was released, the spies moved out of our home and set up outside our front door. But it was only a change from surveillance in the home to surveillance outside it.

One day, my father came home. I had never spoken to him before about what my life was like, but I was very unhappy that day, and I self-harmed with a razor blade. It wasn't that I wanted to die. I wanted to protect myself, because I hated my life. It was so bad that I had become numb, to the extent that I wasn't really sure if I was dead or alive. There was a lot of blood, so I went to get some tissue paper to clean it up, and I saw my father standing behind me. He had been there the whole time and he was wiping away tears. After that, I decided never to do anything so selfish again.

On the day we left, I had no idea that my mother was taking us away from China, escaping. I just thought I was going to school as normal, and I got dressed and reading. My father gave me a very big hug before turning away. I stood there watching him, wondering where he was going, and then he turned back again and came back to me, before hugging me again and kissing me on the forehead. Then he brought my brother over and kissed him once on each cheek. Then he left without looking back.

My father never spoke about the persecution he had suffered. Later, by phone, I asked him why he couldn't be like other fathers, why he didn't act as a light in our lives. He asked me to give him a few more years, then he would come back and light up our lives again, though maybe not very brightly.

It wasn't until his book came out that I really started to understand what he meant by "another few years." Maybe he still will come back to us ... to light up our lives.

Ever since Xi Jinping came to power ... we have seen huge numbers of rights lawyers persecuted. This is very bad.

Reported by Hsia Hsiao-hwa for RFA's Mandarin Service, and by Chung Kuang-cheng for the Cantonese Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.


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