Letter to President Barack Obama about Gao Zhisheng

February 28, 2009

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington DC 20500

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Speaker of the House of Representatives
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Mr. President and Madam Speaker,

Gao Zhisheng, the Nobel Peace prize-nominated attorney, one of China’s foremost leaders in the rights defender movement, and “China’s conscience,” was abducted on February 4, and his whereabouts are unknown. His disappearance is all the more disturbing because of an account released recently of the 50 days of torture Gao suffered in 2007 at the hands of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

The account of his treatment in confinement during 2007 is a harrowing depiction of what he suffered at the hands of those acting on behalf of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials:

“Then, the electric shock batons were put all over me. And my full body, my heart, lungs, and muscles began jumping under my skin uncontrollably. I was writhing on the ground in pain, trying to crawl away. Wang [one of the lead torturers] then shocked me in my genitals.”

Gao wrote further describing his ordeal in a separate, incident: “Then two people stretched out my arms and pinned them to the ground. They used toothpicks to pierce my genitals. I can't use any language to describe the helplessness, pain, and despair that I felt then. At a point like that, language and emotion do not have the power to explain.”

In his account, Gao says that the torturers mentioned they were using the same torture methods that they had earlier refined on Falun Gong practitioners. He admitted that he had tried to kill himself to stop the suffering, and that he believed that God helped him to come back from the brink of death.

He also described Communist Party officials asking him to write articles—for any price he named—defaming Falun Gong and Hu Jia, another prominent rights defender who worked together with Gao. Gao refused, but did later write some articles against his will, when they threatened that the torture would not end.

Gao also mentioned that torture took place that was even more horrible than he recounted in his writings, but that he could not describe it because the CCP threatened to abduct him again and torture him in front of his wife and children.

Gao was abducted in September 2007 after writing an open letter to the U.S. Congress to explain the human rights situation preceding the 2008 Olympics. Gao and his family have been persecuted before after open letters he had written to officials at a high level in the Chinese regime, calling for an end to government persecution of the Falun Gong spiritual practice, though he is not a Falun Gong practitioner himself.

After his open letters, Gao’s law practice was taken away from him, constant monitoring and surveillance by police of him and his family was instituted, and he was abducted several times and tortured. The CCP has not spared his wife, nor his 14-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son in its efforts to silence Gao. With a deep belief that justice and the rule of law will ultimately prevail in China, Gao continues to speak out regarding what he believes is right.

As described in his book “A China More Just,” Gao has defended the rights of house-church members, coal miners, petitioners to the government, home-demolition victims, and Falun Gong adherents. He was deemed one of China’s top-ten lawyers before his defense of Falun Gong practitioners.

We should not allow a good man to face such detestable, inhuman treatment at the hands of a regime with little current respect for the most basic human rights. We ask for your help in keeping these matters in the public eye in the hope that the Chinese regime may free Gao and give him whatever medical attention he may need.

Your support may save this man who has been the foremost symbol of the movement for application of basic human rights and for application of the rule of law in China currently enjoyed by most of the rest of mankind.

Sincere regards,

Friends of Gao Zhisheng

Terri Marsh
Executive Director
Human Rights Law Foundation Washington D. C.

Michael Callahan
Chairman, International Issues Committee,
American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA), Florida

Dr. James Wilson
Neuropsychologist and clinic director, California

David Kilgour
Former Member of Parliament

David Matas
Senior legal counsel of B'nai Brith Canada

Edward McMillan-Scott MEP
Vice-President of the European Parliament

Dr. Sen Nieh
The Catholic University of America
Washington D.C.

Willy Fautré
Director, Human Rights Without Frontiers International

Timothy D. Blue,
Co-chair, International Issues Committee,
American Board of Trial Advocates, Seattle

Ed Chapin
American Board of Trial Advocates

Jun Guo
Epoch Times News Group

Dicky Grigg
American Board of Trial Advocates

Sarah Cook
Co-editor of Gao Zhisheng's book
A China More Just
New York

Chris Wu
China Affairs

Dr. Sherry Zhang
Board member of the Sound of Hope Radio

Theresa Y. Chu
Member of New York Bar
Asia Director, Human Rights Law Foundation

Kirk Allison, Ph.D., MS
Program Director
Program in Human Rights and Health
University of Minnesota School of Public Health

Ellen J. Kennedy, Ph.D.
Interim Director, Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies,
University of Minnesota

Guotao Li
Human Rights Activist
Shanghai, China