China Continues to Hold and Presumably Torture Nobel Nominee Gao Zhisheng

09/06/2017 Washington D.C. – Nearly a month has passed since Chinese Christian human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng was presumably taken by state security from his home near Shaanxi’s Yulin city in the morning of August 13, where he was under house arrest. The whereabouts of Gao, reputed as “Conscience of China”, is still unknown. As is typical in these cases, he could face torture in a black jail hidden away in rural province.

Gao became the target of Chinese authorities for defending the most vulnerable in China, including Christians, coal miners, Falun Gong practitioners. He has been kidnapped numerous times, endured repeated torture such as beating, deprivation of sleep and electric shocks, and spent many years in jail and solitary confinement. The Chinese government ‘released’ him in 2014 and placed him under house arrest.

The causes for his disappearance could be many, including President Xi Jinping’s retaliation for Gao’s recently published memoir, in which he heavily criticized the Communist Party and predicted a 2017 collapse of the regime; the upcoming 19th Party Congress, a major power show where Beijing wants no accidents and demands silence from dissidents; or interviews he recently gave to the media in Hong Kong and the U.S. detailing torture and inhumane treatment.

His older brother, Gao Zhiyi, was brought in by police on August 26 and briefly detained before being release. Gao’s supporters believe the detention prevented his brother from being inquired as to Gao’s whereabouts. In addition, a Twitter account organized by Gao’s supporters called “Gao Zhisheng Caring Group” also posted recently that “so far the family and friends of Gao in China, two have been warned, and seven were summoned (among them two have disappeared) by the authorities. These nine cases are the known ones.

His disappearance is concerning when details of past torture and abductions, recorded in his books, are taken into account. Years in captivity have decayed his health as he suffers tooth loss and other health problems.

“Now that I know he has disappeared, I am in a state of emotional collapse,”  Zhisheng’s wife, Geng He, who currently resides in the U.S. with their children, told Radio Free Asia.

Former Virginia Congressman Frank Wolf, when asked to comment on Mr. Gao’s disappearance, stated, “Mr. Gao was my adoptee for the Defending Freedoms Project five years ago, where I highlighted his case and pushed for his release. It’s truly unfortunate that after years he still doesn’t get to taste freedom. The sudden disappearance of Mr. Gao last month is worrisome in light of Liu Xiaobo’s death and knowing the secret arrests and horrendous torture Chinese government has put dissidents through. I urge the Chinese government to immediately release and sustain freedom of Gao Zhisheng.”

Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager, said, “It is a shame that a country so eager to prove its legitimacy to stand among the world leaders, continues to violate basic human rights and secretly imprison and torture their human rights defender. China will never be looked up to unless it learns to respect its own citizens. Let us not forget the plight of Mr. Gao and many imprisoned Christians who suffer inhumane treatment. We ought to continue to press for their release and keep them and their suffering families in our prayers.

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