Geng He is the wife of a prominent Chinese human rights lawyer who, in 2009, was forced to flee her country due to ongoing political repression.
One day, when she took her daughter to a beauty salon for a haircut, several plainclothes policemen burst in and arrested them. The police raid happened at the same time that her husband, who was visiting his parents in another city, was arrested for the first time.
The police took the mother and daughter to her apartment and told her that her husband had been detained.
Surprised by the number of security personnel, Geng told the BBC in an interview: “I looked around and, wow, the first floor and then the second floor were crowded,” Geng commented.
Little did the wife and mother know that this moment would be the beginning of her family’s ordeal and that being married to a lawyer could tear the family apart.
Geng’s husband, Gao Zhisheng, was a prominent lawyer from humble origins who won awards for his outstanding work defending the vulnerable and disadvantaged.
Suddenly, however, Gao was labeled a subversive who incited violence and was a danger to national security.
What was the lawyer’s crime?
In 2005, Gao wrote three open letters to the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), exposing how the authorities had systematically tortured Falun Dafa practitioners. In the following year, he took cases to defend in court.
The lawyer’s actions infuriated the CCP leadership, causing him to be arrested in 2006 and later placed under house arrest.
Geng never thought that her life would become a living hell from then on and that her family would be torn apart simply because she had married a lawyer with good values. However, the situation never improved, and it was a constant pressure for the family, who were constantly harassed by the police at home.
“Occasionally, I’d open the curtains just to see how many police cars there were below,” said Geng He, and my husband would shout back: ‘What are you doing? Why give them the satisfaction of looking at them?'” Geng told the BBC.
Why did the CCP ban Falun Dafa?
Falun Dafa, also known as Falun Gong, is an ancient spiritual discipline that benefited millions of Chinese; however, the Chinese regime saw it as a threat to its political power and banned the practice.
In 1992, the discipline became very popular in the country, and the state estimated that some one hundred million Chinese practiced it. But, in 1999, Jiang Zemin, then leader of the CCP, guided by his jealousy, decided to ban and eradicate it and began a campaign of defamation and persecution that continues today.
Almost overnight, millions of Chinese who had found a way to be better people, following the principles of Truth, Compassion, and Tolerance professed by the discipline, were branded as the worst criminals in the country.
This caught Gao’s attention, who considered the persecution unjust and decided to take on some cases to defend. The lawyer’s noble actions led him to be considered by the rest of the world as the “Conscience of China” and to be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Geng, who fled her country without being able to say goodbye to her husband, made the tough decision to choose between her spouse and her children. She traveled in the luggage compartment of a bus to Thailand and then went into exile in the U.S., where she currently resides with her two children.
Geng says that in the thirteen years since she left her husband, she has never ceased her activities of drawing international attention to the abuse and disappearance of her husband.
Since 2017, Gao remains missing, after having suffered since his first conviction, constant persecution, and kidnapping by the CCP, which does not want its international image to be damaged. The reality, however, is that it achieves quite the opposite, as more and more countries are condemning the CCP’s atrocities.