Below is my rough translation of a letter by Geng He, the wife of imprisoned rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng, who was recently sent to prison for three years for allegedly violating the terms of his probation. This is a dubious charge as Gao has been in police custody for the past three years. The letter, written as the Year of the Dragon approaches, expresses Geng He's pain at being separated from her husband for the fourth consecutive Spring Festival. The Chinese version of the letter follows the English.
For more about Gao Zhisheng, see the following stories from my web site:
Spring Festival Letter From Home
Zhisheng, How are you!
I don’t know whether or not you received the first letter I wrote to you on New Year’s Day?
In two weeks, the Spring Festival will be here. Although we are living in the United States, we can feel the holiday atmosphere in China. All sorts of Chinese couplets, lanterns and other Spring Festival products are displayed in conspicuous places in the supermarket for sale. Seeing these festival things, I am distracted and feel that I’m actually in China; conversely, I also sadly realize that I and the children are in America, without family or you beside us. This is the fourth consecutive Spring Festival that you’ve not been by my side.
I remember on August 15 five years ago, the police suddenly moved into our home, and I was completely terrified, not knowing what had happened. At the time, after I heard that you’d been kidnapped by the police, I didn’t know what to do. Without you, my life sank into darkness. Even worse, each day I had to live under the eyes of the police. After a while, my ears developed a supernatural ability. I could distinguish the sound of the footsteps of each person going up from the first floor to the sixth floor, and I could also distinguish the sound of the footsteps of strangers, and was even better able to identify the sound of the footsteps of the police. Even now, as soon as I hear the sound of footsteps in the hall my heart shakes with terror, just as back then. Since then, I’ve constantly worried about our safety and whereabouts. As a lawyer, in order to fight for the rights of others, you’ve lost your own safety and freedom. What kind of world is this?
In March 2009, I escaped with the children to the United States, coming to this free country. America is exactly the way people describe it, a free country blessed by God, a heaven on earth. However, you have descended into a black prison with no freedom, and so even though we here are in a heaven on earth, we’re still not happy. We’re in this free country, but we’re not free to speak to you or communicate with you, or even to see your face. Living in this free country, although I now have heard about your whereabouts, my heart remains in a black whirlpool from which I cannot extricate myself. They have locked you up in a remote place without a common language or culture, hoping to use loneliness of living in solitude to beat you and break you.
Now, my only hope is that you, living in that prison in the small town at the end of the earth, can receive our letter and card. I also hope that those people who care about you, will write their concerns for you on a postcard and mail it to you every Christmas, every New Years, every occasion when families reunite, and every joyous occasion. I know that these letters and cards will bring boundless love, support and strength to you while you’re living in loneliness and suffering.
Zhisheng, at the present, we can only be reunited with you in our dreams. One day, however, you will get your freedom, and we will really be reunited.
Enclosed are photographs of the children. I will do my best to let you know all the news about them.
January 10, 2012
春节家书 智晟，你好！元旦给你写了第一封信不知收到否？ 还有半个月春节就要到了，即使身在美国，我们也能感到中国春节的气氛。各式中国对联、灯笼、等春节货品已经摆在超市的显眼处贩卖，看到这些节日物品我恍惚觉着自己身在中国，转而又悲哀地感到，实际上我是只身和孩子在美国，身边没有家人和你,这已是连着第四个春节你不在我身边了。 记得，五年前的八月十五日，警察突然住进咱家，我惊恐不已，不知发生什么事情，当知道你被警察绑架后，我更不知如何是好。没有了你，我的生活一下子没入黑暗。更糟的是，我每天还要在警察的眼皮底下生活，时间久了，我的耳朵练就出超常的听力。我能听出一楼到六楼的每户人家的上楼脚步声，也能听出陌生人的上楼声，更能听出警察的上楼声。直到现在，一旦听到楼道口的脚步声，我还会像当初一样紧张得心惊肉跳。自那以后，我无时不刻地为你的安全和下落担忧。作为律师，你为了争取他人的权利，却失去了自己的安全和自由，这是什么世道啊！
现在，只期望天边小镇狱中的你能收到我们的信和问候卡。还期望所有关心你的人们，能够在每一个每一个圣诞节，每一个新年，每一个团圆之夜，每一个喜庆时刻，将他们的关心写在一封明信片上，寄给你。我知道，这些薄薄的信和卡片会给孤独苦难中的你带来无尽的关爱、支持和力量。 智晟，现在我们只能在梦中和你团聚了。将来总有一天，你会得到自由，我们会真正地团聚。 附上孩子照片，我会尽可能的让你知道孩子的点点滴滴。