China Change, published: September 1, 2014
Since Chinese rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng’s release from prison on August 7, we have learned that he is in poor health after enduring five years of solitary confinement without sunlight and malnutrition.
On August, 27, Geng He (耿和), Gao Zhisheng’s wife who fled China in 2009 with their two children sent a series of tweets (here, here, here and here) from her home in California, detailing Gao Zhisheng’s dental problems. She said he needs urgent attention which he has not been able to receive in Urumqi where he has been staying with, and has been taken care of by, his in-laws while remaining under surveillance by government minders.
“Gao Zhisheng has seen a dentist. The dentist said, ‘your teeth are in terrible shape. Here [in Urumqi] we don’t have the equipment to take a full mouth [x-ray] photograph because we can’t afford it (cost more than a million RMB). We can only x-ray individual teeth, but without the full-mouth photo, dentists can’t treat your teeth. The dentist recommended that Gao Zhisheng go to Beijing, Xi’an, or Chengdu to seek treatment.”
“Before Gao Zhisheng was imprisoned, all of his 28 teeth were good. I have just confirmed with him about the condition of his teeth now: of the 16 upper teeth, 5 on the left are very loose and cannot be savaged (red), and 2 on the right fell out while in prison (green). One next to the space (green) left by the lost teeth is also very loose and can be pulled out by hand.”
“Of the 12 lower teeth, the 6 front teeth (red) are very loose and unsalvageable that need to be removed.”
“Gao Zhisheng holds his jaw all the time due to an excruciating toothache, which is exacerbated by eating, drinking and even breathing. When he shakes his head, his teeth shake too. Now he is very voracious for all the good food, but the toothache is preventing him from eating it. We have a family dentist in Beijing, but the authorities have barred Gao Zhisheng from going to Beijing, confining him in Xinjiang without treatment.”
“Xinjiang doesn’t have the equipment for a full mouth x-ray and the dentist was afraid to clean his teeth for him for fear of uprooting the loose teeth. The dentist asked for written promise that we will not hold the dentist responsible should his teeth fall out during cleaning. [In Urumqi,] explosions occur often, even in residential areas there have been deafening gas pipe explosions.””
“Receding gums are exposing the root of all five upper molars, and brushing aggravates the condition. I believe, first of all, a competent dentist has to pull these five molars out, and the next step would be to undertake implant reconstruction.”
“Every day police from the Public Security Bureau pay two visits to GaoZhisheng, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, each lasting two to three hours. They kept asking what he does at home. Gao Zhisheng said, read and rest. They demanded to know what he was reading. He said, books available in bookstores.”
“Everyone in my family is tired of this, and is afraid of leaving Gao home by himself (they worry these public security personnel might do something harmful to Gao again). GaoZhisheng said to them, since you spend all day visiting me, making it impossible for me to rest and causing inconvenience to my family in their routine such as going to work and going out to shop for groceries. You may as well put me back to prison.”
“My older sister used to hate night shift because her kids needed her during the night. Now she swaps shift with co-workers so that she can stay home during the day to keep an eye on the “visiting” policemen in and out of her home.”
In earlier tweets, Geng He revealed that Gao Zhisheng limped like a polio patient when he walked out of the prison and was pale “as a ghost.” He could barely communicate in the first days after his release, but thanks to the good care he has been receiving from relatives, he is recovering in speech.
Save Gao Zhisheng, by Yaxue Cao
(Translated by China Change)