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ICC Note

Mr. Gao Zhisheng, a human rights lawyer in China who often legally helps persecuted Christians, has made himself available to the foreign media to let the outside world know what is really going on in China . He is a target for persecution by the government.

Chinese lawyer hits out at regime

January 29, 2006

Jonathan Watts

The Observer ( United Kingdom )

To read the full story, click here: Chinese Lawyer Hits Out at Regime

Gao Zhisheng, a firebrand lawyer who has defended hundreds of victims of torture and persecution, said the Communist party was responsible for more deaths than the Nazis, but Western governments turned a blind eye because they were desperate to trade with the world’s fastest growing economy.

‘When the Nazis slaughtered Jews, the outside world condemned them,’ he said. ‘But the Communist party has taken the lives of 80 million people, 13 times more than the death toll among the Jews, yet the world says nothing.’

Gao’s comments are particularly remarkable because he still lives in Beijing , where he is vulnerable to retribution. He says his phone is bugged, his 12-year-old daughter is followed to school and more than 30 agents monitor his every move. Last month, his law firm’s licence was revoked and last week he was warned he faces arrest. Ten days ago an unmarked car attempted to run him down. But he is defiant.

Already one of the most prominent lawyers of his generation, Gao, 41 has taken a public stand – via the internet – in favour of the most oppressed groups in China: democracy campaigners, victims of religious persecution, mine accident widows and peasants who have had their land seized by the authorities: ‘The Communist party has done too many evil and cruel things. So I must fight them.’

His office is a small, sparsely furnished flat in a giant residential complex in the Chaoyang district of Beijing, a familiar location to those in China with a cause or burning sense of injustice. So many come to him that the guards on the gate need no prompting to direct strangers to ‘that lawyer’. It is below zero outside, but Gao says that does not put off his state security minders. What does make them flinch is his video camera. ‘They bug me, but I don’t care. They are the ones who are afraid of exposure. When I point this camera at them, they try to conceal their faces. They know one day they will be called to account.’

Turning his enemies’ weapons against them is a typical Gao tactic, as is pushing a situation to its limits. Last year, he went to investigate the government’s confiscation of private oil wells in Shaanxi province. On the way, he heard the authorities were waiting to detain him, so he drove to the police station and confronted the commanding officer. ‘I told him I had saved him a lot of bother so the least he could do is pay for my transport costs,’ he says. ‘He reimbursed me my car rental fee and arranged for a police car to drive me home.’

To read the full story, click here: Chinese Lawyer Hits Out at Regime