Beijing (AsiaNews) - Hu Jia, one of the most famous Chinese dissidents, has launched an online campaign to ask all supporters of democracy in China to send greeting cards to Gao Zhisheng, a lawyer in prison in the remote province of Xinjiang for his strong defense of human rights, on the occasion of Chinese New Year. The holiday - one of the most important in all of Asia - falls on 10 February, the campaign began with Christmas wishes, because Gao is a Christian.
According to Hu Jia, anti-AIDS activist and 'bridge' between the Chinese dissidents and the international media, "it's not just about giving encouragement to the prisoner, but also about sending a message to the prison staff, and maybe making them more restrained, which can improve the treatment and safety of political prisoners in jail. "
Gao Zhisheng was sentenced for the umpteenth time in December 2011 by the judicial authorities in Beijing to three years in prison for "violating terms of probation." In fact, the lawyer has been in the crosshairs of the Party since 2006, when he became famous worldwide for his work in support of religious and ethnic minorities harassed by state law.
Before his conversion to Christianity, Gao was one of the "10 best lawyers in China": his decision to help others - for free and always within the national legislature - prompted the government to stop him, trying delete him from the scene. During his career he has defended unofficial Christians, members of Falun Gong and Tibetan Buddhists.
After the first conviction in 2006 for "inciting subversion" (later suspended after an appeal won by the lawyer), the authorities continued to harass him with illegal arrests, disappearances and torture in prison. In November of 2011 Gao disappeared into thin air: one month later the Xinhua state news agency, announced that he had been sentenced to three years in prison.
On 12 January, after months of complete silence, his family was able to visit him in jail, but was forced to "not talk about sensitive topics." During the 30-minute meeting with his younger brother and his father-in-law Geng Yunjia, they were watched over by prison officers and talked about "every day life". The last meeting with his family dates back to March 24, 2012.
His wife Geng He, who lives in exile in the United States with her two children, said: "Overall, I was told he was reasonably well. He walked without assistance, and it didn't look as if there was any problem with his mobility, he has a shaved head. He could not send any message other than to take care of the children and not to worry too much about the situation. "