08/04/2014

Europe's ambassadors must demand release of Gao Zhisheng!

China: human rights lawyer threatened by house arrest following his prison sentence!

© 6-Kao/Wikipedia

The Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) has sent an appeal to the ambassadors of the leading European countries and the United States in China to demand a release of the imprisoned human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng. "Gao's eight-year prison sentence will officially end on August 7, 2014 – but we fear that he will be kept under house arrest after that," said Ulrich Delius, the STP's Asia-consultant, in Göttingen on Monday. In the People's Republic, it is common practice to place political prisoners under house arrest or lock them up in secret prisons even after they have served their sentence, in order to silence them. "Gao Zhisheng should not have to fear the same fate as the Mongolian human rights activist Hada, who has now been locked up in a secret prison since three and a half years after his regular 15-year prison sentence ended in December 2010."

Gao Zhisheng is considered to be one of the most prominent human rights lawyers in the People's Republic. As a lawyer, the confessing Christian had shown special commitment towards the religious freedom of the persecuted Christians and Falun Gong practitioners. For the lawyers in China, such commitment is especially risky, because the authorities often punish them by withdrawing the approval as a lawyer.

Gao Zhisheng went even further in his commitment towards religious freedom. Between 2004 and 2006, he wrote three open letters to the National People's Congress, demanding an end to the persecutions against Falun Gong. He also had a good reputation among impoverished peasants and petitioners, because he provided them with legal advice concerning their disputes with arbitrary party officials and the local administrative bodies. As he regularly helped destitute people with their disputes, he was also known as an "advocate of the poor".

In 2001, the Chinese Ministry of Justice had still honored Gao Zhisheng as one of China's top ten lawyers – but he was deprived of his license in August 2006, then arrested and charged for "undermining the public order". In December 2006, he was sentenced to three years in prison and five years probation. While in detention, the now 50-year-old lawyer was regularly tortured, although this is also prohibited under Chinese law.


Ulrich Delius, the STP's Asia-consultant, is available for further questions:
+49 551 499 06 27 or asien@gfbv.de.


Header Photo: Chinese human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng is threatened by house arrest. 6-Kao/Wikipedia