The wife of Chinese human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng is urging Chinese authorities to return the remains of her husband as she believes he has been “persecuted to death”.
"I don't have any dreams now. I only hope that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) can return Gao Zhisheng's ashes to me for humanitarian reasons," Geng He said in a statement read outside the Consulate General of the People's Republic of China in San Francisco.
“I now have a premonition that is getting stronger and stronger, which is that Gao Zhisheng has been persecuted to death," she said. "Otherwise, he would definitely have found a way to contact us," she continued.
Gao Zhisheng was known for taking on human rights cases and defending religious minorities.
He was first detained by the authorities in 2006, and was subject to multiple disappearances, beatings and torture, as well as serving a prison sentence from 2011-2014. He was released in August 2014, but disappeared again in August 2017.
“[Gao] has been detained and persecuted by the CCP for 16 years, during which he was tortured, imprisoned in solitary confinement or subjected to several forcible disappearances," Geng said.
"He hasn't had a single day of freedom," she continued.
Geng’s plea comes as two groups promoting rule of law have called on the government to disclose Gao’s whereabouts “without delay.” The letter, jointly written by The Law Society of England and Wales and Lawyers for Lawyers, calls for authorities in China to “identify and disclose the whereabouts of Chinese lawyer Gao Zhisheng and carry out a prompt, effective, and impartial investigation into his disappearance”.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide’s Founder President Mervyn Thomas said: “CSW stands with Geng He as she continues to call for news of her husband’s wellbeing and whereabouts. Gao Zhisheng is a courageous human rights defender who has repeatedly stood up against injustice to protect the most vulnerable in society, at great cost to himself.
“We call for his immediate and unconditional release, and for the authorities to end this inhumane practice of denying his family information as to Gao’s health and wellbeing. We also urge the international community to raise Gao’s case with the Chinese Communist Party at every opportunity and as a matter of extreme urgency,” Thomas concluded.
Geng escaped to the US with her son and daughter in 2009 and has not been able to go back to China as their ID cards have been confiscated.