Early on the morning of Feb. 4, Mr. Gao Zhisheng, a famous civil rights lawyer and Nobel Peace Prize nominee, was taken away by a swarm of policemen who broke into his house in Shanxi. His whereabouts is unknown.
Chinese police have cut Gao’s connections with the outside world for over two years. Two weeks ago, police ordered Gao, who has been under strict monitoring, to leave Beijing and go to his Shanxi hometown to spend the Chinese New Year. On the morning of Feb. 4, over 10 policemen suddenly burst into his house and took him away.
Gao’s relative told the RFA reporter, “At about 3 or 4 a.m., more than ten people with some local police rushed in. They did not say anything but took him away. We went to visit him and we were not allowed to see him. Many followed us. The second day, we went to Jia County township.”
“The second day you mentioned was Feb. 5? Was he still in Jia County that day?” the RFA reporter asked.
Gao’s relative: “He was there. He was taken away from the town. That should be 7 or 8 in the morning. We went there to send some clothes to Gao. But we were not allowed to see him.”
Reporter: So they [the police] accepted the clothes?
GR: Yes, we have sent the clothes. But we did not see him. We only saw the car. They drove off in the car.
R: It has been more than a day. Have you got a call from him?
GR: No. We cannot get hold of him.
Around 2005, Gao Zhisheng wrote 3 open letters to China’s top leaders, asking them to stop persecuting Falun Gong. In November 2005, Gao’s law firm in Beijing was suspended. On Aug. 15, 2006, Gao was kidnapped. Later, he was arrested with an excuse of “inciting subversion of state power.” On Dec. 12, 2006, the court conducted a trial without allowing Gao’s attorney to present his case. In the same year, on Dec. 22, Gao was sentenced to a 3-year term under the name of “inciting subversion of state power,” with 5 years on probation. The same day of the sentence, Gao was sent back to his home in Beijing.
It has been over 2 years since all Gao’s connections to the outside world were cut off. In May 2007, the American Board of Trial Advocates granted Gao the Courageous Advocacy Award. In September 2007, Gao was kidnapped again. During the 13 days, he was stripped naked and laid on the floor. He was hit by electron batons all over his body including his genitals, and even had toothpicks stuck into his genitals. When Gao regained consciousness, he found himself soaked in urine.
Before the Chinese New Year, police ordered Gao to leave Beijing. He was forced to return to his hometown in Shanxi on Jan. 21.
GR: He came back about five days before the New Year.
R: Was he safe at home those days?
GR: Yes, yes.
R: When he was here, how many people [police] followed him?
GR: At least seven. They followed him closely. They only allowed him to stay in Jia County and did not allow him to go other places.
R: When he was visiting other homes, they [police] still followed him?
R: You said there were over ten policemen that took him away. Did it include those seven or there were over ten added to the seven?
GR: Including the seven, there were a few more joined them.
R: All the seven [police] were from Beijing? Or they were local?
GR: I thought they were all from Beijing since we have not seen them before.
R: Did they say where they were taking him?
R: From your experience, if Gao returned to Beijing, would he contact you and let you know he is safe?
GR: I guess he would. But we just cannot get hold of him. We are very worried. His cell phone is not on. Nor any news from him