'Secret Detention is a Terrifying Thing'

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Gao Shen, wife of missing rights activist Tang Zhishun, speaks to RFA in San Francisco, Oct. 28, 2015.
Gao Shen, wife of missing rights activist Tang Zhishun, speaks to RFA in San Francisco, Oct. 28, 2015.

The wife of rights activist Tang Zhishun, missing since he helped the teenage son of two detained rights lawyers escape across the border from southwestern China to northern Myanmar, is currently in the United States with her daughter after her husband's disappearance earlier this month. Tang, together with fellow activist Xing Qingxian, was detained by Myanmar authorities along with Bao Zhuoxuan, son of detained rights attorney Wang Yu and her activist husband Bao Longjun, on Oct. 6. Bao Zhuoxuan is now under house arrest at his grandparents' home in China's Inner Mongolia. Tang's wife Gao Shen spoke to RFA's Mandarin Service in a recent interview in San Francisco:

"My daughter and I have come here to the U.S., but not her father. We didn't know about this until after he got detained.

We were a happy family, but now our lives have been thrown into chaos by this incident, and I and my child have been thrown into a distressing situation against our will.

We have no income and we have to borrow from friends to pay for our food and lodging. It was all so sudden; I never thought that something like this could happen.

This has to do with my husband's love of kids, his sense of justice, and his passion for helping others. I just never thought he would be helping us all to this much trouble.

[Bao Zhuoxuan] wanted to go overseas to study, but his passport was confiscated, and the police had set limits on his personal freedom. But not only did we not save him, [Tang] himself is now in police custody for trying to lend a helping hand.

[Bao Zhuoxuan] left home of his own accord, and my husband Tang Zhishun kept a distance from him from start to finish. There was no physical contact. He never dragged, pulled or shoved him, nor did he take hold of him in any way.

It is ridiculous to associate the word 'kidnap' with my husband. What would be the point of kidnapping this boy? This was someone who had been deprived of liberty and deprived of the right to leave the country ... that's why Tang and Xing tried to save him, our of the goodness of their hearts.

I support their actions. Every Chinese person of conscience should help out a child. He wasn't in the wrong to try to help [Bao Zhuoxuan]. The Chinese police are in the wrong for locking him up in secret and not notifying his family, not allowing him to see a lawyer. There is no news of him at all. This sort of behavior is totally despicable.

Secret detention is a terrifying thing. They won't let me visit him. We are terribly afraid that the Chinese police may be torturing Tang Zhishun and Xing Qingxian, destroying them in order to get a forced confession.

The government is always talking about transparency and justice, but where is it? They came to our home and searched it, but they wouldn't tell us where Tang Zhishun is. It was even on [state broadcaster] CCTV, plain as day, but to this day there has been no communication with the family.

This is the rule of law that our government talks about."

Reported by C.K. for RFA's Mandarin Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.

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