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19th January 2009

He was under house arrest since November 2007

Gao Zhisheng  

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  re-arrested and  held incommunicado at an unknown location.


Source : AI.ASA 17/004/2009 - UA 24/09




Gao Zhisheng, age 43, who has been under house arrest since November 2007, was taken into custody on or shortly after 19 January. He is being held incommunicado at an unknown location. In the light of the harsh treatment he received earlier, he is considered to be at high risk of torture and other ill-treatment. While under house arrest, he was often humiliated by his guards: this included being forced to eat food thrown on the ground.


An army veteran, self taught lawyer, Christian  Gao Zhisheng, is director, founder and star litigator of the well known Beijing based Shengzhi Law Office. The office, because it is one few Chinese law firms involved with human rights issues, has been suspended by the Chinese authorities for one year. Mr. Gao and his family's ordeal started when his conscience led him to start investigating the persecusion of Falun Gong and wrote three open letters to the top Chinese officials.

In 2000 he moved to Beijing and established the Shengzhi Law Office with a half dozen other lawyers.

In 2001 he was voted as one of the 10 Best Lawyers in China, because of his professionalism and integrity, often helping poor people without fees suing local Chinese government branches and officials. Gao Zhisheng wrote one open letter to the National Peoples' Congress in 2004 and two open letters to Hu Jintao and Wen Jibao in 2005, before his open letter to the members of the U.S. Congress, requesting that they stop the persecution toward Falun Gong practitioners.


On November 4, 2005 Beijing Municipal Bureau of Justice's official notice closing the firm for failure to notify the authorities of its change of address and the “illegalsubmission of legal documents to a lawyer who does not work for the firm, is received by Gao Zhisheng.


In December 2005, Gao wrote an open letter resigning from the CCP in which he revealed that his investigations into the persecution of Falun Gong had lead him to lose hope completely in the CCP. On January 17, 2006, according to an Epoch Times report, Mr. Gao escaped an assassination attempt allegedly ordered by the Chinese government. The attempted car crash plot came in the wake of the release of Mr. Gao's research reports on the prosecution of Falun Gong in mainland China, and his subsequent resignation of CCP membership.


In Feb. 2006 Gao called for a Hunger Strike Support Group to Support Human Rights, which organized relay hunger strikes by thousands of people in China in support of human rights.

In December 2006, he was sentenced to three years in prison for "subversion of the state," with a five-year "suspended sentence," and denial of all of his constitutional rights, such as freedom of speech and free association, for one year. Gao and his family have been under strict surveillance by the authorities ever since, and they have been repeatedly harassed. Thugs have beaten his daughter, apparently under the direction of someone—or some faction of—the CCP.


While Gao was still free, he and his family were subjected to 260 days of daily harassment by the police, which included three attempts on Gao's life. On Aug. 15 2006, Gao was arrested on the charge of "inciting subversion." After Gao's arrest, his family continued to be subjected to intense harassment, which included attacks on his wife Geng He and his daughter Geng Ge.


In April 2007, Gao Zhisheng reported other Chinese activists that he had been treated harshly by police during a four-month period in custody in 2006, including being handcuffed and forced to sit in an iron chair or cross-legged for extended periods, and having bright lights shone at him. He said he only agreed to confess to his ëcrimeí in order to protect his family.


Gao Zhisheng, received high human rights honors for his work defending the rights of various groups in China. In 2007, Gao Zhisheng was given the "Courageous Advocacy Award" brom the American Board of Trial Advocates. On June 24, 2007, Gao was kidnapped by the Chinese government in order to prevent him from attending the award ceremony in Santa Barbara, California, on June 30, 2007.


Gao Zhisheng wad kidnapped again on September 22, 2006 by members of the State Security Bureau, but the Chinese authorities have made no official announcement of his detention.

According to Hu Jia, a close contact of Gao Zhisheng, he might have been taken away by officers from either the State Security Bureau or the National Security Unit of the Beijing Public Security Bureau.


The visit to Gao Zhisheng’s house by state security personnel was apparently linked to his issuing of an open letter to the US Congress on 13 September, drawing attention to the deterioration in the human rights situation and stating that, in light of this, he could not support the country’s staging of the 2008 Olympics.


Hu Jia, Beijing-based AIDS activist, received a phone call from Gao Zhisheng, on October 28, 2007. Hu reported their conversation, which lasted only one and a half minutes. Gao warned Hu Jia not to take risks to visit his family, otherwise, the authorities would seek revenge against him.


In August 2008 reports surfaced that he had been tortured for close to two months in the same way that Falun Gong practitioners are tortured, where authorities attempted to force him to denounce Falun Gong, that had attempted to commit suicide, and that had been removed from Beijing during the Olympic games.




RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in English, Mandarin or your own language:
- calling on the authorities to release Gao Zhisheng immediately and unconditionally;
- if he remains in custody, calling on the authorities to reveal where he is and the formal charges against him;
- urging the authorities to guarantee that he will not be tortured or otherwise ill-treated while he remains in custody;
- urging them to ensure Gao Zhisheng has access to his lawyers, and any medical treatment he may require;
- calling on the authorities to take effective measures to ensure that all human rights defenders can carry out their peaceful activities without fear of arbitrary detention, imprisonment, hindrance or intimidation, in line with the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.



Prime Minister of the People's Republic of China
WEN Jiabao Guojia Zongli
The State Council General Office
2 Fuyoujie
Beijingshi 100017
People's Republic of China
Fax: +86 10 65961109 (c/o Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Salutation: Your Excellency

Minister of Public Security of the People's Republic of China
MENG Jianzhu Buzhang
14 Dongchang’anjie
Beijingshi 100741
People's Republic of China
Fax: +86 10 63099216 (it may be difficult to get through, please keep trying)
Salutation: Your Excellency

Director of the Beijing Public Security Bureau
MA Zhenchuan Juzhang
Beijingshi Gong'anju
9 Qianmen Dongdajie
Beijingshi 100740
People's Republic of China
Fax: +86 10 85222320
Salutation: Dear Director






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