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Long Live Gao Zhisheng

Posted by Author on April 1, 2010

The Wall Street Journal, Apr.1, 2010-

China has many ways of punishing political dissenters: There are the usual methods like putting people in jail, harassing them with constant surveillance, or resorting to physical torture. And then there is the special form of retribution that seems to have been invented for Gao Zhisheng, a lawyer once known for his fearlessness in handling politically sensitive cases.

Mr. Gao was taken away by authorities in February last year after constant harassment, and by fall was rumored to be dead when police described him as “missing.” His crime was to be outspoken about government abuses, which he knew a lot about thanks to his work representing persecuted religious minorities and land evictees. Authorities refused to answer questions about his whereabouts, except to say he was “where he should be.” His wife and children fled to the United States just before he disappeared.

This week Mr. Gao resurfaced, but under similarly mysterious circumstances. His captors appear to have given him a cell phone, perhaps in response to international pressure, and he has spoken to several friends and family members who confirm he is alive. He says he has been “released,” but is unable to speak freely and seems to be accompanied by others. He may be captive under a kind of house arrest.

His case is important not only because of the work that he himself has done, although that is certainly admirable. Rather it’s emblematic of China’s deteriorating legal and human-rights situation. The Communist Party leadership is increasingly tightening the screws on dissent, from locking up dissidents to censoring media.

According to the Dui Hua Foundation, a prisoner advocacy group, there are around 5,687 political and religious prisoners China today. Mr. Gao’s reappearance is an event to celebrate, but there’s still a long road ahead of him, and for others like him who are fighting for a freer China. (The Wall Street Journal)

One Response to “Long Live Gao Zhisheng”

  1. James Poulter said

    Long Live Gao Zhisheng!

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