US, European Officials Raise Awareness for Missing Chinese Human Rights Lawyer

August 31, 2020 Updated: August 31, 2020

U.S. and European officials are calling on the Chinese regime to release information about the missing Chinese human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng.

On Aug. 30, which is International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, the Congressional-Executive Commission on China posted a Twitter message: “The Chairs call on the #Chinese gov’t to provide information to the family of human rights lawyer #GaoZhisheng, who has been missing since #Beijing police detained him in 2017.”

The commission is chaired by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.).

Gao, a self-taught lawyer and a devoted Christian, has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize three times. He began practicing law in 1996, defending victims of government land seizures; families of miners, who are seeking compensation after their loved ones died in coal mining accidents; as well as persecuted Christians and adherents of Falun Gong.

Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a spiritual practice with meditative exercises and moral teachings. According to the Falun Dafa Information Center, there were 70 million to 100 million adherents of the practice before the Chinese regime banned it in 1999. Since then, hundreds of thousands have been detained and tortured in jails, brainwashing centers, and labor camps.

In December 2004, Gao published an open letter addressed to China’s rubber-stamp legislature, the National People’s Congress, appealing to the Chinese regime to stop persecuting adherents of Falun Gong. Gao published two more open letters urging an end to the suppression of Falun Gong in 2005.

Amid his advocacy for Falun Gong adherents, his law firm in Beijing was ordered to close for a year in November 2005. He was subsequently stripped of his lawyer’s license in August 2006.

In December 2006, Gao was sentenced to three years in prison, with a five-year-probation, after being convicted of “inciting subversion of state power”—a catch-all charge the Chinese regime often uses against dissidents.

The Chinese regime also threatened Gao’s family, which prompted Gao’s wife, Geng He, and their two children to flee China in January 2009. They now live in the United States.

Gao was interviewed by the Associated Press in 2011, in which he recounted how he was repeatedly tortured while in detention, including at the Xinjiang police’s detention center.

In December 2011, Chinese state-run media Xinhua reported that Gao had been sent back to jail to serve his three-year sentence due to probation violations. He was freed from prison in August 2014 but was immediately placed under house arrest.

Gao went missing in August 2017 and his whereabouts remain unknown.

Geng, in a recent interview with The Epoch Times, said she was worried that Chinese authorities would intentionally infect her husband with the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus, and make his “disappear” permanently.

Several members of the European Parliament—Reinhard Bütikofer and Evelyne Gebhardt from Germany, and Hilde Vautmans from Belgium—took to their Twitter accounts to voice support for Gao on Aug. 30.

“China needs to ratify the Intl Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance,” wrote Vautmans. The document calls on signee nations to end enforced disappearances and investigate any such cases.

Amnesty International USA also released a video on its Facebook page on Sunday to bring awareness about Gao’s disappearance.

The United Nations declared Aug. 30 the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances beginning in 2011.

Follow Frank on Twitter: @HwaiDer