On January 1, 2012, Geng He wrote a very moving letter to her husband, human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng. Gao, held incommunicado by the Chinese authorities for the past 20 months, has been sent back to jail, according to a report on December 16 by the official Xinhua News Agency. What's puzzling is that the court was quoted as saying that the decision was justified because Gao had “seriously violated probation rules” several times. It would have been quite difficult for Gao to have violated the terms of his probation as he has been under police detention for the past 20 months.
Below is my rough translation of Ms. Geng He's letter. For more information about Gao visit my recent blog postings here and here. To see my artcile on Gao, plese go to: Beijing's Mafia justice for the lawyer they won't lock up but can't set free.
How are you?
Today is New Year’s Day. I and the children just attended the New Year’s celebration at church. The people all around us were wearing splendid holiday attire and holding each other’s hands as they sang hymns, their faces beaming with the festive holiday spirit. During the intermission, everyone was smiling and talking, and expressing regards to one another, while children ran after one another. Every corner of the church was full of the happy voices of the adults and the children’s laughing and playing. However, I was absent-minded, unable to blend in with everyone’s happiness. Yesterday, I got the news from your elder brother that you have been sent to a prison in a remote part of Xinjiang, and my heart was heavy with sadness.
During these past 20 months, we have been on tenterhooks, running everywhere to get news about you. But there has been no news at all. During my search for you, I often had a fantasy that as soon as I had word about you, I could relax my heart, and that I would be able to peacefully play and study with the children. However, after I got the news about you yesterday, I could not relax my heart, which was like a twisted piece of dough. They originally gave you an illegal “three year sentence that was suspended for five years,” but during these past five years, you have always been in their hands, and in the end they said you violated your probation. Why did they do this? Why?
Right now I want to break through all the barriers to be by your side, I really want to rent an apartment next to your prison and live there, so that each month I can visit you right on time. However, because of our children, I cannot realize all of my aspirations.
My mother and father have lived in Xinjiang for 46 years, and I never heard of this place called Shaya County. It’s too remote and no one knows about it or cares about it. Now, this small town at the end of the earth has has actually become the place of our greatest concern, a place we yearn for. Our whole family has begun to carefully search for any scrap of information about this desert town, hoping to learn everything about this place.
Tianyu’s English is quite good; I teach him Chinese at home. After class he learns swimming, ice skating and other extracurricular activities. He likes to study and has a deep interest in science and technology, the universe and math. On Saturdays, I take him to the Aerospace Museum, all sorts of science and technology museums and the library.
I often say to him: “Mama is very grateful to you, because your interests and hobbies have forced me to take you to the places you want to go to, making me a better and better driver. He replied; “That’s right! In the beginning, you drove on small roads, but now you drive on the highways, and you’re even able to drive in front of the eyes of the police.” What he’s saying is that I’m no longer afraid of the police. Before, I would get nervous when I saw police, because while I was in China, I was often bullied by the police, which left me paranoid.
Gege is already accustomed to her life and studies here. Her grades are all As, but she has to work a bit harder on her spoken English. This year she will attend university, and she has already applied to several schools. In her own words: “The schools I’m applying to, will give you and Baba face.” Gege has also gotten her driver’s license.
Tianyu once woke up in the middle of a dream, and said to me crying: “Mama, Baba didn’t hold my hand, and I lost him.” I repeated these words over and over again to myself.
Do you still remember what Tianyu said when he was three? “I have a red string in my heart, and no matter where Baba goes, the red string will be tied to him.”
Each one of us has a red string connected to you, no matter where you go. Even if you go to the ends of the earth, we will remain connected to you. This time we will hold your hand tightly, and we won’t lose you, or break contact.
I’ll write letters to you often, and I look forward to receiving your letters. I’ll send you photos of the children.
Hope you’re well.
January 1, 2012
Original Chinese Version