It’s a new high-tech torture, officials say. In China, officials severely tortured Christian human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng with the camera running and then coerced a tax evasion “confession” from artist and dissident Ai Weiwei by showing him the Gao video, and warning him that’s what could be coming.
The details are graphic. A Christian Newswire statement says electric shock was a part of Gao’s torture.
“Fu Zhenghua, the chief of the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau, instructed those handling the case to show Ai Weiwei the video of Gao Zhisheng being tortured, including shots of electric batons being inserted into Gao’s anus and his blood, semen, feces, and urine spurting out,” a China Aid report said.
“Fu Zhenghua also issued an order saying: Whatever methods were used on Gao Zhisheng, use the same ones to make Ai Weiwei give in. After several consecutive days of torture, Ai Weiwei was finally compelled to sign a statement of confession, admitting to tax evasion,” the China Aid report added.
China Aid spokesman Mark Shan says the video was obtained entirely by the police for use in the torture of other Chinese dissidents.
“The footage is not news video footage. It was a movie by the Chinese government. The torture is real and is known as a worldwide tragedy,” Shan said.
Shan also pointed to a January report that gave some of the details of Gao’s torture.
“There was an AP report in January I think, that told of some of the details of the torture – shocking,” Shan declared.
Gao told the Associated Press that he was stripped naked and repeatedly hit with handguns.
He described how officers for two days and nights took turns beating him and did things he refused to describe. When all three officers tired, they bound his arms and legs with plastic bags and threw him to the floor until they caught their breath to resume the abuse, Gao said in the report.
“That degree of cruelty, there’s no way to recount it, For 48 hours my life hung by a thread,” Gao added, according to the AP account.
Shan said such treatment is routine when the Chinese government is looking for evidence. Torture is how they obtain the “proof” they want, he said.
“That’s the way they convict people and get so-called proof from the suspects, from the people they’re prosecuting, so the next time they can sentence them,” Shan observed.
“They (the government) just want people to give in or say what they want them to say,” Shan asserted.
Listen to Shan’s interview:
Shan adds that Gao’s only crime is being a famous lawyer and for choosing to defend groups on the government’s enemies list.
“He is a very famous lawyer in China. He won a reputation medal from the Chinese government. But he started to defend the persecuted religious minorities in China,” Shan asserted.
“I think he defended the Falun Gong practitioners, so from that time on he got into big problems,” Shan explained. “This group is labeled a cult by the Chinese government.”
Shan adds that Gao apparently has one more strike against him by the government.
“Gao Zhisheng is a Christian and he just wanted to defend their human rights. He doesn’t argue with what they believe; Gao says that’s not the issue. The issue is their human rights. They should have the freedom to choose to believe,” Shan detailed.
Gao Zhisheng is not the only human rights lawyer in the crosshairs of the Chinese regime.
An Agence France Presse story posted by France 24 says that human rights lawyer Teng Biao was freed, but human rights attorney Li Fangping disappeared.
“Chinese human rights lawyer Li Fangping said Thursday he was home after disappearing for five days, but the wife of another attorney said her husband had vanished amid a tough crackdown on dissent,” the report stated.
“But another attorney named Li Xiongbing – who has represented human rights activists, victims of religious persecution and AIDS advocacy group Aizhixing – went missing Wednesday, his wife and activists told AFP,” the report added.
International Christian Concern China specialist Kris Eliott doesn’t discount the reality of torture in China. She says torture is routine, but believes that Gao’s treatment is at the upper end of a torture scale.
“There are levels of torture that the Chinese will face, we believe that what Gao’s facing now with electric shock, that’s on the far end,” Eliott said.
“A lot of people who are arrested will not face such torture. A lot of times the torture will be sleep deprivation, food deprivation, leaving the lights on all night long and building up to the point where they threaten the person’s life,” Eliott maintained.
The China Aid report says that Chinese authorities forced Ai Weiwei to watch the torture video of Gao, and told Weiwei that the treatment on the video would be given to him if he didn’t sign the confession.
Elliott believes that the psychological trauma of Weiwei watching the graphic details of Gao’s torture caused Weiwei enough mental duress that watching the tape could be considered torture.
“He was shown that video so that it was torture for him to be able to see the torture of another human being,” Elliott stated.
Here Elliott’s interview:
Elliott said she’s been in contact with her sources in China and the sources have noticed an uptick in incidents and severity of persecution.
“We haven’t seen any pattern of the effort, but I’ve talked with some of our partners and they’ve seen an increase in Christian persecution in the last year or so,” Eliott stated.
“We’ve seen in just last January, two Catholic priests were arrested and tortured and pressured to register with the government,” Eliott related.
“We’ve seen another human rights lawyer be arrested, tortured and now believed to still be under house arrest. We’ve seen the government focus on the leaders so these people become an example for the government to other dissidents or Christians,” Eliott further explained.
Eliott says she believes that because China is emerging as a world leader, China will face more media scrutiny.