AFP: ” The wife of one of China’s best-known rights advocates says she is unable to sleep fearing for his safety one year after he vanished, as US lawmakers nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Gao Zhisheng, a lawyer, took on some of China’s most controversial causes by defending coal miners, underground Christians, the banned Falungong spiritual movement and ordinary people seeking redress from the government.
Human rights groups say that security personnel snatched him from his home village on February 4 last year and
Lawyer Gao with his wife and two children
that he has not been heard from since.
His wife, Geng He, and their two children staged a daring escape out of China last year to Thailand, from where they were granted asylum in the United States.
Geng said she was haunted by memories of what happened to Gao in the past. In a previous 50-day detention after he wrote a letter to the US Congress, Gao said that guards inflicted him with electric shock, burned his eyes with cigarettes and stuck toothpicks in his genitals.
“Since 2005 my husband was kidnapped six or seven times and every time he would tell me of the torture that he experienced,” Geng told AFP.
“These past few weeks, I can’t sleep until 3 am every night. My heart aches because I recall every single detail,” she said.
“Really, sometimes I feel that it might be better if he were dead than alive. But I am hoping and I am ready to trade my own life for his so that the family can go on,” she said.
She voiced hope that appeals from the United States and other foreign nations would help her husband.
“Unless there is international pressure, I fear that in the future there may be no more lawyers in China who will take up these cases,” she said.
In Beijing earlier Thursday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu refused to answer questions by foreign reporters on Gao’s whereabouts. Last week Ma said, “I guess that he should be where he should be.”
“Though Chen, Gao and Liu are three of the most outstanding Chinese human rights defenders,” they wrote, “few governments or inter-governmental organizations have the courage to brave the Chinese government’s displeasure and honor them.”
China has been increasingly defiant in the face of international pressure on its human rights record. It released no dissidents before Obama’s visit to Beijing in November, moving away from a tradition of goodwill gestures for visits by US leaders.