Lawyer Gao Zhisheng’s Whereabouts Unknown, Feared Detained by PoliceComments Off on Lawyer Gao Zhisheng’s Whereabouts Unknown, Feared Detained by Police
Lawyer Gao Zhisheng’s Whereabouts Unknown, Feared Detained by Police
(Chinese Human Rights Defenders, September 25, 2007) – Gao Zhisheng (高智晟), a human rights lawyer, is feared detained by the Beijing police on September 22. All attempts to contact him or confirm his whereabouts with family have failed.
On the afternoon of September 22, another Beijing activist, Qi Zhiyong (齐志勇), saw over ten plainclothes State Security Protection officers and several suspicious vehicles when he passed Gao’s home. Qi described the atmosphere as tense and terrifying.
Gao may have been taken away by police officers from the State Security Bureau and the National Security Unit of Beijing Public Security Bureau (PSB), but no eyewitness to the detention has been found, nor has the detention been confirmed by Gao’s family since their wherabouts are not known either.
According to Hu Jia (胡佳), another Beijing activist who kept in close contact with Gao, Gao’s family is terrified and they fear for his safety. When another supporter was able to reach Gao’s wife, Geng He, by phone, she only managed to reply, “No,” to the question, “Is Mr. Gao back home?” before the phone was cut off.
On September 13, nine days before his disappearance, Gao wrote a public letter calling on U.S. Congressmen to be concerned about China’s human rights in the lead-up to the Olympics. On September 16, a group of police from the Beijing PSB’s National Security Unit stormed and searched Gao’s flat. They declared that they were to form a “supervision and modification” committee, meaning they were to stay in Gao’s home for a long period of time to monitor him.
Gao is a former Beijing lawyer who represented many defendants in sensitive rights-related cases such as individuals persecuted for activities associated with Falun Gong. For his legal defense work, Gao was banned from practicing law in December 2005. In 2006, Gao published a public letter addressed to Chinese top leaders which demanded investigation of the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners. On December 22, 2006, Gao was convicted of “inciting the subversion of state power” and sentenced to three years’ imprisonment, immediately commuted to five years’ parole. Since his release, his house has been under surveillance.
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Chinese Humann Rights Defenders (CHRD) is a non-political, non-government network of grassroots and international activists promoting human rights protection and empowering grassroots activism in China.