25 May 2017
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  • » 08/08/2014, 00.00

    CHINA

    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 home. For 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.

     

     

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    See also

    25/01/2011 CHINA
    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.

    08/04/2010 CHINA
    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.

    02/01/2012 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.

    14/08/2014 CHINA
    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".

    18/03/2010 CHINA
    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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