Seizing the timing of Hu Jintao’s much vaunted visit to the United States, friends of abducted civil rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng have called for his release.
Gao, by now a renowned figure internationally, has been missing since April 2010. Beijing human rights lawyers Jiang Tianyong, Tang Jitian, and Xie Yanyi have demanded that authorities release Gao, also condemning the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) human rights atrocities.
After an eight month absence the story of Gao Zhisheng was brought back into the public spotlight on Jan. 10 by the Associated Press, who published a detailed account of the torture Gao experienced after he was kidnapped in 2009.
Gao had given the interview in April 2010, when he was briefly freed and able to talk to the press, and told them to embargo publication until he was either outside China or had been missing for a while.
Jiang Tianyong, another renowned civil rights lawyer in Beijing, said the complete lack of news on Gao’s disappearance is extremely disconcerting. “What we’re most concerned with now is where Gao Zhisheng is, is he alive or dead, we’re extremely worried.”
He thought the recent AP story suggests that he is in critical danger, or that something even worse may have happened to him.
Tang Jitian believes that even if Gao was on probation, his basic human rights should not be violated. The persecution of Gao has harmed the man, his family, friends, and China’s reputation, Tang said, not to mention violating international human rights conventions.
Jiang says that since China has participated in the Anti-Torture Pact and publicly claims that it is a responsible nation, it should therefore comply with the rules.
Xie Yanyi echoed the same sentiments, demonstrating a thorough knowledge of human rights legal instruments—something crucial for rights lawyers in China today, who often have to quote directly from such laws to stop violent police officers in their tracks.
Xie Yanyi also said that persons responsible for persecuting Gao should stop and just set him free.
Tang says that it is crucial that more people be told about Gao’s situation and that they request affiliated organizations and government departments inform the public of the latest news. The international community, the United Nations, and non-government organizations should closely follow up.
“As Chinese chairman Hu Jintao is about to visit the United States, I feel that the international community should work hard to make their voices heard,” Jiang said.
Gao Zhisheng had worked pro bono for disadvantaged groups and the poor for many years. He was monitored and followed after writing letters to CCP leaders about the persecution of Falun Gong. In December 2006, he was sentenced to three years for “inciting subversion of state power.” The sentence was suspended, but he and his family were since then continuously monitored or kidnapped.
In 2009, Gao’s experience titled “Dark Night, Dark Hood, and Kidnapping by Dark Mafia,” was published online, revealing the persecution he suffered in 2007. He described the torture he endured in custody, including being beaten for weeks, starved, and having his genitals attacked with electric prods and toothpicks.
On Feb. 4, 2009, Gao Zhisheng was again kidnapped from home. In March 2010, he was seen at Wutai Mountain, and was able to give an interview to AP, but disappeared yet again in mid-April.
His wife, Geng He, escaped China with their two children in January of 2009.
Read the original Chinese article.