Its been just over a year since the disappearance of China’s highly respected lawyer, Gao Zhisheng.
In 2001, Gao was recognized by China’s Ministry of Justice as one of the 10 best lawyers in the country for his work defending victims of medical malpractice and dispossessed land.
However, in 2005, Gao sent an open letter to Beijing’s leadership exposing the torture and inhuman treatment inflicted by the regime on practitioners of the spiritual practice Falun Gong, Gao, and his family were put under 24-hour police surveillance
He was arrested in 2006 sentenced to three years in prison.
In January 2009, Gao’s wife Geng He and their two children escaped China following years of harassment and her husband’s multiple abductions at the hands of the Chinese Communist Party. With the help of underground faith groups, they fled their homeland.
Gao was released in August 2014.
Geng He reported that her husband had been kept in a darkened room in solitary confinement and that he had lost almost three stones in weight. Gao lost most of his teeth at the age of 53 and reportedly suffers from medical conditions as a result of years of physical and psychological abuse
After his release, Gao disappeared again on April 2010, Gao while visiting his in-laws in Xinjiang.
In December 2011, state media reported that Gao had violated the terms of his probation and had been sent to prison for three years.
Gao continued his work on China’s religious freedom and human rights. He published the books “Unwavering Convictions” and “2016 Human Rights Report for China,” and a draft constitution for a future China.
On Aug. 24, 2017, Gao’s wife, Geng He was presented he Shahbaz Bhatti Freedom Award for China’s religious freedom and human rights by First Step Forum’s goodwill ambassador David Kilgour.
His family hasn’t been in touch with Gao since and his whereabouts his unknown.
“Why has Gao today been missing for more than a year? Why is he disappeared? Why are none of his family members in China able or willing to answer their phones when Geng He calls them from America?” Kilgour said. “Why were the identification papers for all of Gao’s family in Xinjiang taken away?”
“Gao is China’s Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela,” Kilgour said.
As time goes on Gao has still not been heard of.
Let us of the free world not turn a deaf ear to the cries of those who cannot speak for themselves.Let us not refuse to listen to the resonant voices of those who are calling for justice.
Gao has since been nominated twice for the Nobel Peace Prize.