» 08/08/2014, 00.00
China: Christian activist Gao Zhisheng "is free but under control"
The authorities in the western province of Xinjiang release the lawyer, committed to the defence of religious freedom in China, but continue to keep him under control. Contact with his family still denied, now in the United States. His teeth are ruined and he is seeking medical care in Urumqi.
Beijing (AsiaNews) - Authorities in the western province of
Xinjiang have released the Christian lawyer and human rights activist Gao
Zhisheng, one of the most critical and best known throughout China. Despite
having been released from prison - after 3 years - after serving his full
sentence, the dissident is not really free. Since leaving prison, yesterday, he
has been under the constant escort of provincial security agents; Moreover, it
is not yet able to talk on the phone with his family and friends.
His older brother Gao Zhiyi went to pick him up at the
prison, but since then - according to his wife Geng He, who is currently in the
United States - "it is impossible to talk to him." The well-known
activist Hu Jia, a family friend, said he had spoken to his brother: "He
explained that Gao's teeth are ruined and he is now looking for treatment in
Urumqi [capital of Xinjiang ed.] Once he has been seen, they want to return in
their native village of Yulin, Shaanxi province".
Gao Zhisheng is one
of the most respected human rights lawyers in China, and for a long
time - before his conversion - was one of the "Ten best lawyers in the
country" chosen by the Communist Party. After this first successful phase
of his life, in 2005, he sought to compile a huge dossier on the
persecution of non-official Christians and members of the Falun Gong.
Moved by these testimonies, Gao embraced the Christian faith. Since then he
took up the defense of persecuted believers and congregations and churches whose
land and property had been expropriated free of charge, which led to his being
targeted by the authorities.
He has been the victim of harassment and physical threats
for many years. In December 2006 he
was sentenced to 3 years imprisonment, suspended from practicing for
five years on charges of "inciting subversion". At first he was
allowed to return home, but in reality was placed under illegal under house
arrest with his wife and children. In 2009, his family managed to escape from
China because of the constant harassment by the authorities.
On 4 February 2009 the police took Gao Zhisheng from his
over a year there was no news of his whereabouts until the end of March
2010, when he gave an interview in which he describes his odyssey, including
torture. He described having been beaten so violently that once "my life
was hanging by a thread for forty-eight hours." A few days after the
interview, he disappeared again. In December 2011, after twenty months, the state
press announced that he had been jailed for violating bail conditions. Family
and friends, who did not know whether Gao was alive or dead, were not informed
until the final sentence.
He Depu, democracy activist released after eight years of prison and torture
One of the founders of the Democratic Party, outlawed by the regime. In prison he was tortured for 85 days. On leaving prison he was beaten because he cried out for the end of single party rule in China. He promises to continue his work as an activist.
Gao Zhisheng to “give up struggle” against Beijing
After reappearing in the capital, the renowned lawyer says he no longer has the strength to continue his fight, wants to be reunited with his family, now living in the United States. His legal status remains a mystery.
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.
After Gao Zhisheng suffered "horrific torture" in prison, his wife wants him to travel to the US for treatment
The Christian lawyer and human rights advocate lost more than 22 kilos during his imprisonment and is unable to speak clearly after years of isolation. His wife appeals to China's President Xi Jinping for some "decency or humanity".
Beijing admits: Gao Zhisheng "was sentenced"
The Christian lawyer, targeted by authorities for his fights for human rights and religious freedom, has vanished into thin air since February 2009. The authorities admit for the first time he was sentenced for subversion against the state. The protests of the international community.
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