Chinese human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng was disappeared once more by the authorities 15 months ago, after a short reprieve last April. At that time Gao was allowed to meet with journalists and tell parts of his story, but since then there has been no official word on his case, and his family is becoming increasingly upset and frustrated.
Gao Zhiyi, Gao’s older brother, is on the front lines of the quest to find his sibling’s whereabouts. He told of his helplessness with the repeated dead-ends to Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD), an NGO, on July 9.
“I have obtained no information about him,” after inquiring for 15 months, Gao Zhiyi said.
“A government can’t just do what it likes. If Gao has broken a law then he can be jailed, but they can’t not tell his family where he is for 15 months.”
Gao Zhiyi says he has made numerous phone calls. “I telephoned a director in Beijing who’s in charge of monitoring Gao Zhisheng. He always claims he knows where my brother is, but sometimes he said Gao might have ‘gotten lost.’ I intended to go to Beijing during the annual ‘two meetings’ of the Communist Party. The director told me he would inform me of Gao Zhisheng’s whereabouts when the ‘two meetings’ ended. At the end of the ‘two meetings,’ I called him again, but this time he said he had no idea.
“Gao Zhisheng will have served his full sentence outside of jail this coming Aug. 14. If he is not released, I will make them account for his re-disappearance even at the cost of my life,” Gao Zhiyi said.
Gao Zhiyi, nearly 60, said that he raised Gao Zhisheng after they both became fatherless while young; the affection between the brothers is like that between a father and son, he said. After his brother disappeared again, Gao Zhiyi suffered insomnia and was unable to focus on his daily routine. The entire family has been on edge, he told Chinese Human Rights Defenders.
Gao Zhisheng, as a human rights lawyer, lent a helping hand to many on the receiving end of the Chinese regime’s human rights abuses, and helped many defend their basic rights. Initially the Communist Party lauded Gao for his work.
But the regime went after him when he began voicing support for persecuted Falun Gong practitioners, whose cases he investigated on several field trips. His outspoken support for Falun Gong through open letters to the Communist Party’s top leaders made him a target for security forces.
He was put under surveillance, kidnapped, and then disappeared. While in extralegal custody he was severely tortured, including having his genitals attacked with sharp implements and eyes burnt with cigarettes.
Gao was last seen in April 2010, when he met with family and some members of the press in Beijing. During an interview at that time he described how he had been tortured, in a report that The Associated Press published earlier this year after receiving no word of Gao’s welfare.
On April 10, 2010 Gao was abducted again and his family has not been able to contact him since.