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ICC Note: Gao Zhisheng is just one of the many of the notable lawyers who have dared to challenge the Chinese government on issues of human rights and religious freedom.  Many other lawyers remain in some sort of imprisonment, detention or house arrest.  Others are simply missing.

By Celia Hatton

09/24/2015 China (

Prominent Chinese dissident and human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng has broken his silence to describe how he was allegedly tortured and kept in solitary confinement while in detention.

The 51-year-old lawyer was released from prison in August 2014.

At the time, his lawyer described Mr Gao, a Nobel Peace Prize nominee, as emotionless, “basically unintelligible” and missing teeth due to malnutrition.

Mr Gao was speaking to AP, in his first interview in five years.

He said he was tortured with an electric baton to his face and spent three years in solitary confinement.

Mr Gao is known for defending members of the Falun Gong movement and Chinese Christians.

“Every time we emerge from the prison alive, it is a defeat for our opponents,” he told the Associated Press from his home in Shaanxi province.

Unfortunately, the Chinese government’s crackdown on Chinese defence lawyers did not end with the Gao Zhisheng’s release from prison. If anything, Mr Gao’s persecution represents the start of a wide-ranging campaign.

According to Amnesty International, 245 Chinese lawyers have been targeted by police since early July. Thirty are still missing or remain in police custody.

That number does not include other leading lawyers, like Pu Zhiqiang, who was arrested in May 2014 and has yet to face trial.

Many of the detained lawyers endured weeks of interrogation. Their families have been harassed, their homes and offices raided. Some have experienced violent beatings.

‘Mission from God’

Mr Gao, whose wife and children live in the US, also said he would never seek exile abroad.

He described staying in China as a “mission” given to him from God.

Mr Gao was convicted of subversion and placed under house arrest in 2006, during which time he claims to have been regularly detained and tortured.

He disappeared in January 2009 before reappearing in March 2010. He disappeared again soon after and was revealed to be in a Xinjiang prison in January 2012 after state media said he was being jailed for three years for probation abuse.

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