'We Are Still Married, And I am Still Waiting For Him'

Geng He, wife of rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng, is calling for international sanctions on senior Chinese police officers linked to his disappearance.
By Wang Yun
'We Are Still Married, And I am Still Waiting For Him' Geng He, who is calling for international sanctions on Chinese police officers linked to the disappearance her husband, rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng, speaks to RFA, April 28, 2021.

Four years after prominent human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng disappeared from his cave dwelling home in the northern Chinese province of Shaanxi, his wife Geng He has continued to speak out about his disappearance. Geng, who escaped to the U.S. with her son and daughter in January 2009, spoke to RFA's Mandarin Service about her latest campaign for Gao:

Aug. 13 [2021] marked four years after Gao Zhisheng was kidnapped by the CCP, 1460 days ago. We have had no news of Gao Zhisheng since then. I am calling for international sanctions against Hu Minglang, former director of the Shaanxi provincial police department, Xu Datong, its current director, and Zhuang Changxing, secretary of the Shaanxi provincial political and legal affairs committee.

That includes freezing their assets and expelling any of their immediate family members living overseas. I also want sanctions on the current and former ministers for public security for failing to stop the Shaanxi provincial police department’s misbehavior. My aim is to seek sanctions against them.

In the 12 years since I arrived in the United States, I haven't stopped trying to find him. And to no avail. There is still no news of him, and he being held hostage somewhere. I am trying anything I can think of. Anything I can.

He is really nice man. When we were in the army, I was part of an all-women's company, and the rules were very strict. Sometimes we would get hungry when we were done training because we couldn't get enough to eat, but we weren't allowed to go out and buy anything. The women soldiers used to write notes to him when he was our CCP branch secretary, asking him to bring us dough twists and apples, stuff like that.

We wrote to him every day, to get him to collect our money. It was quite a hassle for him. I thought he took it very well. He would do anything for his female soldiers.

We are still married, and I am still waiting for him, staying steadfast, because he is a really good person. Someone who does good for society. The world needs someone like him. I didn't find out about a lot of his life until I went overseas. I really admire him. I feel as if we are comrades-in-arms now.

I throw myself into work and stay busy. Whenever I have too much time on my hands, to let my mind wander, or take a nap, it's always his image I see. It's as if there is a huge black hole that tries to draw me in. He is down there in the hole, and he needs me to save him. Then I snap out of it and turn my mind back to the job at hand.

Human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng, in undated photo taken during house arrest in Beijing. Credit: Gao Zhisheng
Human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng, in undated photo taken during house arrest in Beijing. Credit: Gao Zhisheng
I want to stay cheerful, because I don't have time for this. I want to work, I want to find my husband, and I want our child to be reunited with my husband. I really struggled the first couple of years [after we came to the U.S.], and I was in a pretty poor state. I was also worried something might happen to me. I even wrote a letter to my children. I still feel guilty [because] kids need a father. They need his love, but the family was torn apart in turmoil, and so there is no security for them.

[When I last spoke with Gao on the phone, in August 2017] he was full of confidence as always. He hates to talk about the bad stuff, unpleasant things. I basically told him that the kids were happy, that they were doing well. I wanted him to have a sense of how they were growing up. He loved that; he really needed to hear it.

I haven't read the book he published. Sometimes my daughter tells me about it. I can't bear to read it. I don't want those scenes in my mind. I know he writes about being tortured, and I can't bear that. I really can't bear it. He was so broken when he got out of prison back in August 2014. He had almost no teeth, and he could barely walk. It's been four years. When I think about it, I can't swallow my food. What will he be eating, with no teeth?

I never thought of him as a hero. I think he is a really good person, and the things he does have always moved me. I have always felt that I am his wife, and a homemaker, and that I need to take care of the family, look after the kids, and be there for him.

I have always felt that what he did was right ... and yet the family suffered endless intimidation and persecution. Around Lunar New Year this year, I managed to get through to his older brother, and I also spoke to his sister in Shandong, without realizing that she was worried that she could be persecuted too.

The kids are doing pretty well, though. Our daughter works, and our son will graduate from high school next year, and will soon be in college.

Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.


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