01/02/2012, 00.00
CHINA

Beijing confirms arrest of Christian dissident Gao Zhisheng

After 20 months of total silence, the regime sends a letter to the lawyer’s brother to communicate his detention in a prison in the remote province of Xinjiang. For 2012, activists fear a worsening human rights situation in the country.
Beijing (AsiaNews) - The Communist regime in Beijing has confirmed for the first time in 20 months that the lawyer Gao Zhisheng is in a prison in the western province of Xinjiang. Gao is a Christian who has long defended freedom for all social and religious minorities in China: arrested in February of 2009, he had vanished into thin air.

The confirmation of his detention was communicated to his brother Gao Zhiyi: "I received a letter this morning informing me that my brother is in prison Shaya". However, the prison is unreachable by telephone, and the Office of the Shaya County Public Safety says he knows nothing about this case.

Last month, the Beijing regime Xinhua news agency, had confirmed a new arrest for Gao guilty of "violating the terms of his probation." But did not provide any other details. The choice of the prison was possibly made with a view to prevent visits to the detainee: Xinjiang is a very remote and difficult to reach province.

Gao Zhisheng is one of the most respected figures in the world of Chinese dissidents. After a brilliant legal career - he was named one of "Ten Best Lawyers in China" - he converted to Christianity and decided to work on his own to defend in court all those who were accused on trumped up charges because of their demands for democracy and justice.

The confirmation of his arrest, however, is far from comforting for the present situation. According to many activists still living in China, as well as those living abroad, 2012 could be even worse than the previous year in terms of respect for human rights. According to Hu Ping, director of the Beijing Spring, "it gets worse from year to year."

Gao's case "along with Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo and the blind activist Chen Guangcheng have characterized 2011. But nothing suggests an improvement in the future. The regime continues to deny the rights of anyone looking for justice or democracy. "
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