Chinese human rights lawyer prevented from receiving dental care

by Kelly Ledbetter, |
Chinese human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng is seen in Beijing in this January 6, 2006 photo. | REUTERS/Stringer (CHINA)

YULIN, China (Christian Examiner) – The human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng has again been prevented from traveling to attain medical care for his teeth, which have been damaged by malnutrition and torture in the seven years he has been systematically persecuted by the Chinese government for speaking out about injustice.

In a Nov. 3 letter to Bob Fu, founder and president of China Aid, Gao writes that he is "emotional" about the government frustrating his most recent attempt to travel to Xi'an to treat his "few famously damaged teeth."

He thanks Fu for his inquiry and says, "I am very sorry that I have always not been able to give those who love me good news!"

The authorities cancelled and refunded his train ticket for the second time since his Aug. 7, 2014, release from prison, where Gao writes he was sometimes hit dozens of times per day in the face and mouth.

About the political reasons cited preventing his travel, which he calls "deep and mysterious," Gao tells Fu his desire to look after his teeth is apparently a matter of national security.

"I still hope you as a [Christian] brother will not be sad or dispirited about this matter or about the outcome of my damaged teeth. This attempt to look after my teeth unexpectedly raised the issue of 'national security,' which is not easy to stand up against. Local authorities presumed I would act afraid this time," he writes. His translated letter appears in full at China Aid.


With feeling, Gao writes about the dental trauma he has endured. "If teeth have emotions, then being my teeth is really unbearable. Especially in 2009, these teeth experienced surprising and startling pain." He details his torture, which often consisted of being beaten in the head while hooded. "At that time, my body could no longer feel pain. My awareness was also fuzzy and too much to bear, but I still remember hot mucus flowing out from my mouth. The pain my teeth were subjected to was great."

In prior writings, Gao spoke about his ability to dissociate himself from the pain of torture. He says God saved his life when he tried to kill himself to escape torture in 2007; now, his calling is to share his testimony.

Gao believes this present persecution comes from Beijing. "Being barbarous and violent is the bones of the totalitarian system; shameless lying is their skin and bones," he says, adding that this type of cruelty is characteristic of his treatment by Beijing authorities.

He sounds alternately amazed and resigned at Beijing's continued restriction of his movement. "When, just a short while ago, a common person's teeth are destroyed and lost, [the attempt to correct the damage] is deemed a matter of 'national security,' persisting for seven years. Dauntlessness like this never diminishes."

Yet he predicts the Chinese Communist Party will fall from power within two years as its lies become more exposed.


"Brother Fu," Gao writes, "the outside world can speculate that because I cannot treat my teeth, I must always be in a mood of personal, bitter hardship and torture. This is not entirely true."

Gao finds consolation in spending time with his family and especially in reading. Gao's wife and children reside in the United States.

"To me, it is incredibly precious that I now have books to read. Generally speaking, I know I will disappear immediately again after my book is published. So I am determined to try my best to read more books. This is something I need to do before this happens. This is very crucial to me."

The book Gao references is the one he wrote in the year after his latest release from prison, detailing his treatment and denouncing corruption. He has claimed that he will be kidnapped and secretly imprisoned upon the publication of his book.

"My relatives rose up early this morning and my family members suffered when they went to the train station to refund my ticket. I write this because I am so emotional about the incident. Don't let it bother you!"

Gao ends his letter on a personal note. He writes, "I wish you well! May the Lord's peace be with you!"