Diritti Umani; Gao Zhisheng, bambini di attivisti usati contro i genitori

Cina, la drammatica storia della famiglia Zhisheng, in fuga per salvare i propri figli

Gao Zhisheng, uno dei più coinvolgenti dissidenti in Cina, ha iniziato la giornata del 9 gennaio scorso nello stesso modo in cui iniziava le sue giornate quando gli ufficiali di sicurezza cinesi avevano iniziato a sorvegliarlo 24 ore su 24. Quella mattina, lui e sua moglie, Geng He, hanno mangiato latte di soia, uova fritte e arachidi per colazione. Subito dopo, Gao ha lasciato il suo appartamento per fare delle spese. Quando è tornato a casa, sua moglie e i suoi due bambini non c’erano più. Da quel momento, per Geng e i suoi bambini, è iniziata una odissea, che con l’aiuto di alcuni attivisti dei diritti umani, si è conclusa 2 mila miglia più lontano di Pechino, in Thailandia.  Il racconto di Geng è emblematico non solo perchè narra una drammatica fuga, ma perchè rivela come la Cina usa i familiari dei dissidenti per far leva contro di loro ed estorcere confessioni.

Segue l’articolo in inglese

Gao Zhisheng, one of China’s most irrepressible dissidents, began the day of Jan. 9 the same way as most days since security officials had begun watching him around the clock. He and his wife, Geng He, ate a breakfast of soy milk, fried eggs and peanuts. Gao left the apartment to run some errands.

By the time he returned, his wife and two children were gone. With just the clothes they were wearing and about $60 in cash, the three embarked upon a harrowing odyssey orchestrated by human rights activists that began in the bitter cold of Beijing and ended, seven days and 2,000 miles later, in the humid safety of Thailand.

“I had no time to think,” said Geng, whose children are 16 and 5.

Her tale stands out not only because it involves a dramatic escape; it is remarkable, human rights activists say, because it reveals how China uses dissidents’ relatives as leverage against them.

Geng insists that her husband knew nothing of her plans.

Gao said in earlier interviews that security officials used threats against his children to extract a confession from him in 2006. So the departure of his family gave him greater leeway to challenge the leadership, though at a high cost: He hasn’t been seen or heard from since Feb. 4,

when security forces hauled him away.

His family’s escape upended the way security officials managed Gao, a human rights lawyer who has embraced causes including the outlawed spiritual group Falun Gong, displaced urban residents and the Christian underground church. He has issued angry manifestos calling for the end of Communist Party rule.

Since Gao’s release from prison in 2006, he had been allowed to live a superficially normal life in Beijing. But he was shadowed by plainclothes guards, and said he felt constrained by the threat of retribution against his family.

Geng said she decided to flee with her children last September, when her daughter, Geng Gege, now 16, stopped going to school. “Her classmates would bully her and say, ‘Your father is involved in organized crime,’ ” Geng recalled. “She could not handle it anymore, and she tried to kill herself.

“I did not tell my husband because I didn’t think he could take it,” she said.

Their journey was fraught with danger and paranoid moments. The family was always moving, usually at night, via trains, tour buses and motorcycles, and on foot. Only once did they stop overnight at someone’s house.

The most trying moment, Geng said, came when, for security reasons, the guides separated her from her 5-year-old son, Tianyu, for several hours. Their motorcycles couldn’t make it up a slippery hill, Geng said, and she got into an argument with her daughter.

“She said, ‘I’ll go to jail, I don’t care! I can’t do this anymore,’ ” Geng recalled, continuing, “I begged her not to give up, because we had to be reunited with Tianyu. I was worried that I would be separated from my child forever.”

Ultimately, the three made it to Thailand, where they were granted refugee status, facilitated by international rights groups including China Aid, a Christian organization based in Midland. She and her children settled in New York after arriving in the United States in March.

Geng says her children are worried about when they will see their father again.

One night last month, Geng woke at 3 a.m. and found her daughter staring at a computer with a screensaver image of Gao.

“She said, ‘I just want to say a few things to my dad,’ ” Geng recalled, sobbing. ” ‘Go back to sleep, Mom.’ ”

New York Times, May 10, 2009

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