Friday, January 14, 2011

Chinese lawyer Gao Zhisheng tells of police torture

Gao Zhisheng
(Photo from ChinaAid)
The Associated Press recently revealed that it had an exclusive interview with Christian human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng eight months ago in which he revealed details of torture he suffered during his 14-month disappearance into government custody, said ChinaAid on Monday.

The American newswire service said that it had not reported immediately on the April 7, 2010 interview in keeping with Gao’s wishes that “his account not be made public unless he went missing again or made it to ‘someplace safe’ like the United States or Europe.”

Given that Gao disappeared again two weeks later and that there has been no word from or of him in the more than eight months since then, the AP decided to release the details of his interview, after consulting with his family. The Washington Post carried the exclusive report on January 10.

Gao told of the police torture he endured after he was “disappeared” on February 4, 2009, including a two-day, two-night beating session where police used handguns in holsters to pummel his bare body. Gao said this was the worst of the beatings he had ever endured and was the darkest point of the 14 months.

On September 25, while taking one of the strolls that his captors in Xinjiang occasionally allowed him, he was set upon by a group of Uyghurs who punched him in the stomach, handcuffed him, taped his mouth and eyes shut and took him into an upstairs room of a building. That began a week of torture that culminated with the 48-hour pistol-whipping session that he said was the worst torture of the 14 months. Gao said he knew his torturers were plainclothes police because they used handcuffs, which ordinary criminals would not have. He said they abused him in other ways that he refused to describe.

In November 2009, after U.S. President Barack Obama’s summit in Beijing, Gao’s treatment improved. In February 2010, police had Gao participate in a staged reappearance in response to international pressure. They transferred him to a temple on Mount Wutai, a Buddhist retreat, and on March 27 allowed him to be seen publicly. A short while later, he was taken to Beijing, where his interview with the AP took place, under the watchful eye of plainclothes police outside a teahouse. Two weeks later, he was “disappeared” again.

Chinese President Hu Jintao will be making his way to Washington next week for a summit meeting with President Obama. Although the AP did not mention Hu’s upcoming January 18-21 trip to Washington, the timing of the report likely was not a coincidence.

You can read the full AP story on ChinaAid's site by clicking here.

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