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China Lawyer Tortured, Forced to Confess To Protect Family

Posted by Author on April 12, 2007

By JOSEPH KAHN, New York times, April 10, 2007-

BEIJING, April 9 — Gao Zhisheng, one of China’s most outspoken dissidents until his conviction on sedition charges late last year, said in a recorded statement made available over the weekend that while his confession had resulted in a light sentence, it had been made under mental and physical duress.

Mr. Gao’s remarks, recorded by a close friend and offered to journalists in Beijing, were his first public statement since he was convicted in December. He was given a suspended sentence.

His confession brought criticism from some other human rights advocates.

Mr. Gao lives in Beijing with his wife and children. But he said he remained in nearly total isolation, surrounded by plainclothes security forces and forbidden to leave his home, use his telephone or computer or otherwise communicate with the outside world.

He also said that a lengthy confession letter released to the public by the authorities after his conviction, while genuine, had come only after he had been subjected to torture. He said his interrogators repeatedly threatened to punish his wife and children unless he admitted the crimes they said he had committed.

“Although in the past I had some idea of how this group ignores justice, how they nakedly and impudently use evil means to realize their objectives, I really did not understand well enough,” Mr. Gao said, referring to Chinese public security forces.

He said his captors had forced him to sit motionless in an iron chair for extended sessions that totaled hundreds of hours, surrounded him with bright lights and used other torture techniques aimed at breaking his will. He said he had agreed to their terms because they repeatedly intimated that the well-being of his wife and children could not be guaranteed unless he cooperated.

“In the end I decided I could not haggle about my children’s future,” he said.

Mr. Gao, a lawyer, gained prominence among human rights advocates and grass-roots organizers in China and their supporters overseas for his uncompromising denunciations of police and judicial abuses and his scathing open letters to senior Communist Party leaders.

He called attention to what he described as systematic abuses against members of the Falun Gong spiritual sect, which is banned in China. He also helped organize a hunger strike against intimidation tactics used by the country’s State Security forces.

Mr. Gao lost his license to practice law in late 2005, and in August of last year he was arrested while traveling in Shandong Province.

The authorities repeatedly described Mr. Gao’s cooperative attitude in custody. A few months after he was arrested, they released a letter in which Mr. Gao declared that he had severed all ties with his former colleagues working for human rights and that he did not desire to have a defense lawyer represent him in court.

Judicial officials said in announcing the verdict in his case that Mr. Gao not only admitted his own crimes but had also provided information about other outstanding cases.

Those claims prompted a mixed reaction among Mr. Gao’s friends and supporters. Some said they worried that he had betrayed former colleagues and expressed disappointment that he had compromised with the authorities after a short stint in captivity.

Others said they suspected that officials had elicited a confession from him by using extreme pressure and that the public release of documents in his case was intended to ruin his reputation and divide his allies.

Mr. Gao issued his remarks, the first explanation of his confession, through Hu Jia, a longtime friend and fellow human rights organizer who managed to reach him by telephone. Mr. Hu recorded the conversation with Mr. Gao’s consent, according to the tape.

Attempts to reach Mr. Gao directly were unsuccessful.

In the recording, he denied that he had betrayed any secrets that could harm other dissidents. But he acknowledged that he had let down his colleagues by confessing.

“I don’t have the ability to get news from outside, but I bet much of it is about my so-called surrender and open declaration,” he said, referring to documents released by the authorities. “When these matters are raised, my heart is flooded with unbelievable shame.”

He said he had decided to earn a decent living for his family instead of seeking to change China’s political system. “In the future I don’t aspire to be much use to society, but rather to be of more use to my family,” he said.

But he said intensive security had turned his house into a new jail for him and his family, making it impossible for him to earn a living and forcing him to speak out once again.

– original report: China Dissident Says Confession Was Forced

Related:
Gao Zhisheng: ‘I Will Fight for My Family’s Living Rights’, The Epoch Times, Apr 09, 2007
Letter Expose Tortures of Chinese Lawyer Gao Zhisheng, April 12th, 2007

One Response to “China Lawyer Tortured, Forced to Confess To Protect Family”

  1. Frank Yu said

    HE DESERVES IT!!!!!!!!

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