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In an Open Letter, Chinese Human Rights Lawyer Urges Hu-Wen Leadership to Stop Persecuting Spiritual

Prominent human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng wrote to Chinese leaders
Hu and Wen, calling on them to "stop persecuting spiritual believers
and mend ties with the Chinese people."

October 18, 2005, Beijing — Mr. Gao Zhisheng, a human rights lawyer in Beijing, wrote an open letter to Chinese President Hu Jintao and Vice President Wen Jiabao. He called for the two leaders to "stop persecuting spiritual believers and amend ties with the Chinese people." The letter listed many cases in the persecution of Falun Gong and gave his first-hand experiences with Falun Gong practitioners and their families. As an attorney, he called for the two leaders to truly govern China under the rule of law according to China’s Constitution.

Gao is known for his willingness to offer help at no charge to the disadvantaged unable to afford legal fees and for his courage in taking on the "politically sensitive" cases that few in China dare touch. He has been one of the more outspoken critics of China’s legal system.

Mr. Gao wrote in his letter: "The officers and staff who carried out the appalling brainwashing and transformation [1] against Falun Gong practitioners were measured only by the results they achieved in transforming their victims. They completely abandoned their humanity and yielded to the lure of economic gains. They lost their inborn characteristics of sympathy, fear, guilt, shame and morality. They simply ignored common sense and turned the system of values based on human conscience on its head."

In the past year or so, Mr. Gao has received a number of requests from Falun Gong practitioners for legal assistance. Learning of their appalling stories of persecution by the government, he felt that he couldn’t sit back. In order to gain first-hand knowledge of Falun Gong practitioners’ suffering, he set aside a whole week and secretly visited the practitioners. To avoid any unexpected interference, Mr. Gao cut off all outside communication during that week. In his letter, he revealed only part of what he witnessed on his visit:

"People will forever condemn the horrible and inhumane suffering that He Xiuling underwent before her ultimate death. She was dying but was already pronounced dead and was sent to the mortuary. Her relatives, who were not allowed to visit her, finally knelt in front of her dying body. While enumerating the appalling suffering she had endured, her relatives saw tears fall from the eyes of her ‘dead’ body. Relatives wailed and desperately tried to find a doctor. The doctors were indifferent. Their coolness lessened only when one of the villagers who came to the funeral procession knew one of the doctors. When the doctor in question found Ms. He’s heart was still beating, his first reaction was not to resuscitate her, but to tear the electrocardiogram into pieces. ‘I didn’t see anything. I don’t know anything,’ the doctor said as he escaped. He Xiuling died with tears in her eyes while her relatives cried in despair."

He further wrote: "Here I have to say that, with regard to the cause and motivation behind the persecution, I am very confused and bewildered, as are many of my colleagues, friends and neighbors. Why should a citizen’s belief, which is based on his own free choice and involves no pursuit in this mundane world, incur such a lasting, inhumane and illegal crackdown? What on earth is the point?! We cannot rationalize the persecution, other than arriving at the conclusion that those who initiated and continue to assist in it have warped personalities. Their behavior only serves to alienate them, putting them into an illegal position, and continues to pervert their already extremely vile character, the kind of vileness and viciousness that can chill a normal person to the bone…
"During the investigation, we not only learned that the persecution, which was started six years ago, is still going on, but we also learned a more interesting fact, which is that the persecution is failing. Based on our observations at the places we visited, the more brutal and the more long-lasting the suppression is in a given region, the more prominent the signs and extent of its failure. For example, in three cities of Shandong Province, Jinan, Qingdao and Yantai, posters and flyers displayed and distributed by Falun Gong believers and their supporters to protest the suppression and expose the crimes against them are everywhere. Falun Gong posters can be easily spotted at the front entrance of many police departments and police stations. Tenacious and enduring resistance is growing and intensifying, signaling how unpopular the suppression policy is. Conversely, the regions where the suppression isn’t as harsh manifest a different scene. For example, in several districts in Shaanxi Province, the overall situation is relatively calm. In the face of this plain fact, those who love and advocate violence should really feel ashamed.

"Immeasurable capital resources and police manpower are absurdly exhausted on the suppression of Falun Gong practitioners, who simply practice peacefully to cultivate their minds and improve their health. This has further turned the society into chaos. It is an absolute crime to impinge on basic human rights. Frankly, I would like to tell you that neither of you has any reason or excuse not to take immediate action to change the current situation."

By publishing his letter, Mr. Gao is stepping into the most forbidden area in China. The day after his open letter appeared, Mr. Gao received a threatening phone call. The caller said, "You know a lot of truth. We know a lot, too. We know where your daughter goes to school, and which bus she takes."

When asked why he chose to post his letter on the Internet, Mr Gao said helplessly, "The fact that we had to use an open letter to the top leader is a joke in a civilized country, and at the same time is an insult to the lawyers. … because we don’t have trust in the system. …If the letter is not open the world, no one will pay attention to it, and it will be useless. … Unfortunately, the system is so corrupt that it has no value at all, particularly in (listening to) the voice of the people. "

While the authorities are having the "headache" of how to deal with Mr. Gao, the letter has spurred excitement in the society. According to Mr. Gao, after his open letter was publicized in the Chinese language media, many Chinese outside of China called and told him, "We have been reading your articles. We were disappointed at China, but after reading your letter, we think there’s still hope for China!" Mr. Gao referred to this as a force of justice. It encourages everyone. Some high-ranking Chinese communist officials also communicated to Mr. Gao in various ways, "We don’t dare to say the same things you said. We have been following your articles. You are great."

[1] "Transformation" is the term the Chinese Communist Party uses to describe when a Falun Gong practitioner abandons his/her belief.