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Attorney Gao Zhisheng Talks with Rural Chinese

Traveling from Beijing to his home village in Shaanxi Province, Mr. Gao stopped to meet with locals along the way and was surprised by the extent of people’s discontent with the communist regime.

On March 20, 2006, Gao Zhisheng[1], China’s renowned human rights lawyer, left his Beijing home after more than five months of constant surveillance by the Chinese secret police.

Gao told a reporter from The Epoch Times: "I am really driven beyond the limits of tolerance. If I stayed home, they would be there disturbing me endlessly and there would be no life for my family."

Gao stayed at a friend’s house for a few days before driving back to his hometown in Shaanbei, Shaanxi Province. He planned to stay there for 10 days to pay respect to his ancestors, including his mother. Instead of returning home directly, Gao stopped at towns and villages along the way to talk with the local people. In his daily diary published on The Epoch Times website, Gao recorded his encounters with the people he met in the countryside.

Widespread Discontent

Everywhere Gao went, people came to speak with him about their inability to find justice through the legal system. When Gao was in Dingzhou City, a man from Yangquan City, Shanxi Province, came to see him about the injustice he had suffered. Gao said, "When Yu Zhonghua came to see me today, his left hand had been cut off with only a piece of flesh sewn on his arm. Yu spent over 30,000 yuan (US$3,742) in medical expenses out of his own pocket. He is now disabled. However, his offender, who has influence and connection with the police department, did not receive any punishment."

Ms. Zhang, a 28-year-old school teacher, has been appealing for her father over an unpaid debt for seven years. Her father was in the building construction business for more than 20 years. In 1998, Zhang’s father finished a building project for a private art school in Taiyuan City, Shanxi Province, but never received the payment due—400,000 yuan (US$48,800). The case went to court, and Zhang’s father won. The court ordered the school to pay all the money plus applicable interest and also put a lien against the school by holding a school vehicle. However, the vehicle was soon returned to the school upon a release order signed by the judge.

The school principal told Zhang’s father: "We paid the court officials over 300,000 yuan (US$36,600) in monetary gifts. Why don’t you do the same?" When the construction workers Zhang’s father had hired lined up outside his house to demand their wages, Zhang’s father had no means of paying them. A year later, he was still afraid to return home and suffered a heart attack and brain infarction.

In 2004, Zhang learned from a televised news report that Gao had offered free service to defend a boy who broke his leg in a car accident. That prompted Zhang to begin searching for Gao to help her father. She was happy that they were finally able to meet.{mospagebreak}

Qin Yingquan, of Shanxi Province, learned that Gao would pass by Lishi City around 11 p.m. At 9 p.m., Qin was waiting by the roadside. The next day, they had lunch together. Qin told Gao that the police are afraid to come to his village. If they enter the village, the farmers will beat them up. Villagers do not allow police vehicles to enter the village. They set the vehicles on fire if they enter. A few days ago, villagers used stones to drive away the police from the neighboring village.

Qin told Gao a story about officials from the Village Chinese Communist Party Political and Legal Committee bringing a group of people to the village to carry out their so-called "duty of visiting the poor to obtain an understanding of the situation." More than 100 villagers covered their heads with plastic bags with holes for their eyes and nose. They tied white towels on their left arms and greeted the officials with sticks and stones.

"How could they still pretend to care for the poor? No one believes them," Qin said. Finally the Party Committee had to call over 100 anti-riot police to help them flee from the village at midnight.

Talking With People in the Countryside

On March 31, Gao left Taiyuan City for his hometown in Shaanbei. The trip usually takes four hours by car, but it took 10 hours this time because Gao stopped wherever he saw a large group of people gathering. He stopped in Ling County, the last county in Shanxi Province, and talked to a group of people there.

Gao asked them what they worried about the most, what was on their minds, their views of the village officials and Communist Party. People gathered around him, and Gao distributed his articles, including his open letters to the Chinese leaders about the persecution of Falun Gong. He told them to read the articles after they went back home and to pass them on to their friends and relatives. Gao told the crowd that they would find three things in his articles—the truth about Falun Gong, the communist regime, and the reality of China—the true stories that are different from what they have been told. Dozens of people eagerly asked to have a copy of his articles.

Gao told The Epoch Times reporter that some of the people had heard of him. Petitioners know him, as do those who listen to radio stations such as Sound of Hope or Radio France International. Many had heard about the police harassment and surveillance Gao was experiencing and were surprised to see him. People held his hands and wouldn’t let him leave.{mospagebreak}

People Ready to Resort to Violence

While chatting with the local people, Gao heard about an incident that had happened last year in the Luliang area of Shanxi Province. Farmers had planted tons of explosives under a hotel where local Party leaders were planning to hold a meeting. The plot was discovered and many people were arrested. However, the incident was never reported.

Many people told Gao that the situation in their areas had already reached a critical point several years ago and could ignite into violent revolution.

"This worries us the most because China has large rural areas and large numbers of farmers, nearly 900 million now, with a common wish to overthrow the communist regime, and they are asking how this should be done," Gao said. "We see a danger, and I worry about it all the time. I keep telling them not to resort to violence. In all the places I have visited, the people are mentally prepared to use violence to bury the communist regime.

"I met many people in Lishi City. When I told them this regime must end, immediately their eyes brightened up. All of them told me that they could mobilize many people to fight. One could see that the only thing on their minds is violence. They are waiting for the opportunity. They told me that none of them believe in any words from the communist regime. I tried my best to tell them that violence creates violence. Once you start using violence, it will hurt you because the process of violence is a double-edged sword. Right now, wherever I go, I call for the adoption of non-violence, no bloodshed, and no enemies. Many people wept after hearing my words. They asked who could lead them. When could they be part of this non-violent protest?"

Gao illustrated the fact that the farmers are prepared to abandon the communist regime. He said outbreaks of fire were abnormally high in Shanxi Province this year because people were using fire as a way to release their anger.

Falling Moral Values

Other incidents during Gao’s trip caused him to be concerned over the low level of social and moral values. When Gao took a taxi to Dingzhou, the driver told him all the hotels were far away, yet there was one nearby. In Dingzhou, he paid a heavy fine for a car accident he was in even though he was not at fault. The auto body shop where he took his car for repair cheated him.{mospagebreak}

"Honesty, responsibility, and sympathy for other people are the soul of a society. It should be the fundamental base of human beings. There is no such a thing in China now. Without it, China is like a person without a soul," Gao said.

When Gao arrived in his hometown, he did not get any relief from the constant harassment by secret police stationed outside his house. A week later, he was forced to go back to Beijing because all his family members, including a 30-day-old grandniece, were constantly beng harassed. Their everyday life was being seriously disturbed.

Gao is currently home and remains connected with the outside world through cell phone. He still posts his diary and articles on The Epoch Times website every day.

On April 26, the U.S. House of Representatives adopted a resolution that urged China to lift the suspension of Gao’s law license and allow him to reopen his law firm:

"Be it resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That- (1) Congress-urges the Government of the People’s Republic of China, at all levels, to cease its harassment of Mr. Gao Zhisheng, overturn the suspension of his license to practice law, and restore his legal right to represent the clients of his choosing as protected by China’s own Constitution, its Criminal Procedure Law, and its Lawyers Law."

Gao urged the United States to do more. He said that the injustices that he and others like him are suffering are not only a tragedy for the Chinese people but also a shame for humankind. He asked that Western countries not repeat the mistake of being bystanders as they did at the outset of World War II. He called on democratic countries to pay attention to the fundamental cause that is driving the tragedy that he and other Chinese citizens are suffering today.

Lukun Yu is a writer based in New York.


[1] Since October 2005, Gao Zhisheng, the eminent lawyer and human rights defender in China, has been under the surveillance of the Chinese secret police 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The Beijing Judicial Bureau shut down his law firm and suspended his license. In 2001, China’s Ministry of Justice named Gao one of the top 10 lawyers. However, his fate took a sharp turn following his three open letters to China’s top leaders in which he deplored the wrongful persecution of Falun Gong. One April 26, 2006, the U.S. House of Representatives adopted a resolution urging China to lift the suspension of Gao’s law practice. Chinascope provided full coverage of Gao Zhisheng in the February issue. This Article is a follow-up on Gao’s trip back to his hometown in Shaanxi Province at the end of March.