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Concern for imprisoned Christian lawyer in China

By editor - 07 February, 2014

China Missing LawyerChristians in China have marked the fifth anniversary of the arrest of a human rights lawyer who championed the rights of persecuted people of faith.

Gao Zhisheng, who has twice been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for defending the persecuted, was snatched by a dozen Chinese police officers from his apartment on 4 February 2009.

It is now more than a year since Gao Zhisheng’s family were allowed to contact him at the prison in Xinjiang where he has been detained, despite repeatedly begging for permission to see him.

On his last visit, Gao’s elder brother was forbidden from asking about conditions at the prison. He said he was worried about Gao’s health and described him as emaciated, with a sore on his face.

“Release partners are worried that Gao’s health will deteriorate if he remains in the custody of the Chinese Government,” according to Colin King, the UK director of Release International, which serves the persecuted church.

Release is urging China to set him free and allow him to return to his family.

49-year-old Gao Zhisheng has vigorously defended the rights of persecuted Christians, religious minorities and the poor. He had also publicly accused the authorities of brutally torturing him behind bars.

The authorities shut down his Beijing law firm after he wrote three open letters to China’s leaders, calling for an end to the persecution of the Falun Gong. 

The authorities revoked his licence and found Gao guilty of ‘inciting to subvert the state power’. The lawyer later described in detail how he had been tortured under interrogation, including the insertion of a toothpick into his genitals.

On 4 February 2009, he was again arrested at his home in front of his family and taken away.

At the end of 2011 he was sent to Shaya Prison in Xinjiang to serve out an earlier three-year sentence. There has been no news of Gao Zhisheng for more than a year.

His family have fled to the United States for their own safety. His wife, Geng He, recently described her own ordeal to the US Congress: “The police have stayed at my home. They monitored me and my children and didn’t let my daughter attend schools, bringing great mental and emotional trauma. We finally succeeded in escaping from China. Their deeds will forever be etched in our memory.”

On 26 January, a Chinese court sentenced another prominent human rights lawyer, Xu Zhiyong, to four years in prison.

Xu, who has campaigned against corruption, was found guilty of public order offences. Other Christian lawyers have also come under surveillance and intimidation according to Colin King of Release International.

Through its international network of missions Release International serves persecuted Christians in more than 30 countries around the world, by supporting pastors and Christian prisoners, and their families; supplying Christian literature and Bibles; and working for justice.

For more information see: http://www.releaseinternational.org

Courtesy: Independent Catholic News: http://www.indcatholicnews.com/index.php

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