ICC Note: Christian lawyer Gao Zhisheng’s whereabouts remain unknown since his latest disappearance around 100 days ago. A human rights activist and a prominent lawyer, Mr. Gao was famous for defending some of the China’s most vulnerable people, including Christians, coal miners, and followers of various spiritual movements. Mr. Gao drew a lot of attention from the authorities when he published a memoir discussing the hardships and torture that he endured in the Chinese prison. Currently, RFA (Radio Free Asia) is not able to find out where Mr. Gao is as the police officers are not willing to reveal who is overseeing his detention.
11/21/2017 China (Radio Free Asia) – One hundred days after prominent rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng went missing from house arrest, police in the northern province of Shaanxi have denied claims from ruling Chinese Communist Party village officials that they are holding him.
A police officer who answered the phone at the Jia county police department on Monday was unable to answer questions on Gao’s whereabouts when contacted by RFA on Monday.
“Ah yes, right, I don’t really know, because it’s not our case,” the officer said, when asked to confirm Gao’s whereabouts. “This isn’t a criminal police matter.”
Asked who is overseeing Gao’s detention, the officer replied: “The state security police.”
Asked if Gao is in the custody of state security police, the officer said: “Uh-huh,” before hanging up the phone.
Gao, 56, has been incommunicado after disappearing on Aug. 13 from his previous house arrest in a cave dwelling in Jia county’s Xiaoshibanqiao village.
Last week, a rights group monitoring Gao’s case said he is being held in secret police custody in a darkened room with no access to the outside, but without specifying which branch of China’s police are holding him.
An official from nearby Jiahu township told RFA at the time that Gao is being held by the county police department, which could include the county branch of the state security police, and that he is “fine.”
An official who answered the phone at the Jia County Detention Center said Gao isn’t an inmate there.
“Gao Zhisheng. There’s no one by that name here,” the official said. Asked if Gao had ever been an inmate, the official replied: “No, I’ve never seen him before.”
But he couldn’t rule out the possibility that Gao is being held under a prisoner number only, with no name on the public record.
“I couldn’t tell you that,” the official said.