9-24-2012By Alison Searle
Human Rights Defenders
Human Rights First applauds Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) for their bipartisan leadership on S.R.554 calling for the release of prominent Chinese human rights lawyer, Gao Zhisheng. The Resolution urges the Chinese government to: 1) facilitate access to lawyers for Mr. Gao and his family; 2) unconditionally release Mr. Gao from prison and allow him to come to the United States and reunite with his family, should he wish to do so; 3) release all persons in China who have been arbitrarily detained.
Gao Zhisheng is a Christian human rights attorney who was repeatedly kidnapped, arrested, and tortured by Chinese authorities in 2008-2009. After a year of being disappeared, Gao resurfaced in 2010 and spoke with his family for the first time since being abducted from his home in 2009. After visiting with in-laws in April 2010, he informed family members that he would be returning to his home in Beijing a few days later. He never arrived.
In December 2011, the Chinese government announced that Gao violated probationary rules and sentenced him to another three-year prison term, though it declined to make the record public. He’s serving out his 3-year sentence in Shaya County Prison in Xinjian. On March 28, 2012, Gao’s older brother and father-in-law were able to visit him for thirty minutes, alleviating fears that he had died. They conversed under the supervision of Public Security Bureau officials who instructed relatives they were not allowed to discuss the outside world at any point during the visit. Gao remains in prison, pending efforts by the U.S. government and international NGO community that continue to call for his release.
There are countless human rights defenders unable to speak and act freely in China. Human Rights first urges the United States to speak out publicly against their persecution and to establish a consistent support mechanism for human rights defenders in China and elsewhere.
Human Rights First continues to monitor the cases of several lawyers that carry on fighting for human rights in China. To read more click here.