Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Read Wall Street Journal and Washington Post Editorials on Freeing Gao Zhisheng

Wall Street Journal  Editorial Page   September 9, 2014

Free Gao Zhisheng

Susan Rice completes a three-day visit to Beijing Tuesday, with the aim to strengthen cooperation amid bilateral tension and crises in the Middle East and Europe. A sign that the U.S. National Security Adviser has made progress would be Beijing's decision to allow human-rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng to leave China for medical treatment in the United States.

he Chinese government has punished Mr. Gao for nearly a decade for his legal work on behalf of factory workers, dispossessed land owners and especially religious minorities, including Christians and Falun Gong members. Released from Shaya prison in western China on Aug. 7, he is under house arrest without access to doctors.

Mr. Gao needs medical care after being confined from December 2011 until last month to a dark cell with no access to the outside world. The guards, who fed him one slice of bread and one piece of cabbage per day, refused to speak to him. His lawyers say he shed 50 pounds and lost teeth to malnutrition. Mr. Gao has written that in previous detentions he was burned with lit cigarettes, beaten with pistols and electrocuted. Torturers pierced his genitals with toothpicks.

From 2006-09, state security terrorized Mr. Gao's family by occupying their Beijing apartment and denying them any privacy. His wife and children fled in 2009 and received asylum in the United States—"our adopted country," says his wife Geng He, who has asked U.S. leaders to request her husband's release for medical care outside China. Such a request stands a decent chance now, as the U.S. and China are preparing a presidential summit on the sidelines of November's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Beijing.

While Ms. Rice has plenty on her agenda, from the summit to maritime territorial disputes and cyber espionage, issues of political freedom and human rights deserve a prominent place. One is Hong Kong's fading freedoms. Another is Gao Zhisheng, a brave advocate whom Beijing has abused long enough.


Washington Post   

A Chinese activist: Out of prison but not free

Teng Biao is a human rights lawyer.  September 7, 2014

A month ago, the human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng — my friend and colleague — limped out of Shaya Prison in northwestern China. According to relatives, Gao was pale as a ghost. He had spent the past five years — his sentence was for three — in solitary confinement, underfed and with no access to sunlight. For a long time, his wife and children, who fled to the United States to seek asylum, did not know his whereabouts or even whether he was alive or dead.

Gao grew up in an impoverished village in northern Shaanxi province, where as an adolescent he struggled for survival. He was not able to attend college, but he taught himself the law and succeeded in passing the bar exam to become a lawyer. He began practicing law in 1996, first in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, then in Beijing, and his work took him across China. With a deep sense of generosity, he made it a rule that a third of his practice would be pro bono service for the poor and downtrodden. In 2001, the Chinese Ministry of Justice named him one of China’s 10 best lawyers. I worked closely with him on some of his earliest rights defense cases.

But Gao’s career as a rights lawyer quickly hit the rocks, and failing to win cases for his clients was the least of it. In 2005, he wrote open letters to the National People’s Congress and then-leaders Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao to detail the horrendous torture being inflicted upon practitioners of Falun Gong, a fast-growing meditation group facing brutal suppression. He quickly received his reply: 24-7 surveillance of his home, death threats, harassment of his wife and children, summonses, disbarment, disappearances, torture that included savage beatings, electric shocks and the piercing of his genitals with a toothpick, and, finally, solitary confinement in prison. This took place over the past nine years.


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