Missing, found, and then what?

Probably the most unbelievable forced disappearance in China is the whereabouts of the

The Autobiography of Gao Zhisheng

prominent human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng. For quite a long period, it appears that nobody really knows where Gao is, or if he is still alive. Now at least those who have been worrying about him can be a bit relieved to know that Gao is alive and in good health.

On 28 March 2012, Gao’s father-in-law and his brother were allowed to visit him in Shaya Prison in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in north west China. The visitors were allowed to talk with him respectively for 10 minutes and 20 minutes.

Tengbiao, a human rights lawyer wrote about what Gao’s wife Geng He’s description of the visit on twitter, 

RT@tengbiao: Family members of Gao Zhisheng visited him in Shaya Prison. Geng He said, Gao asked my father, how is my big sister, and how is my little sister… are they fine? And he asked us to take care of mother. After he asked these questions, it was already ten minutes. Then Gao asked if my father’s health is good. Father said “my heath is good now after I see you”, Gao then cried…

Born in a very poor family, raised up by a kind-hearted mother, Gao has worked all kinds of hard jobs before he became a lawyer.  In 1991, when Gao was selling vegetables on street, he read from a newspaper people used to wrap vegetables that China was needing lawyers. Gao started to pursue legal study by himself and finally passed the national bar examination in 1995. With passion, a heart of justice and hard work, Gao gained great respect for providing legal advocacy to all kinds of people, from medical malpractice victims to entrepreneurs whose investment was illegally nationalized… In 2001, Gao was awarded the honor of being one of the top ten national lawyers by the Ministry of Justice.  However, Gao ultimately angered the state authority due to his not giving up some political sensitive cases, including Falungong cases, and land dispute eviction. On 22 February 2007, Beijing No 1 Intermediate People Court judged that Gao commited the crime of “inciting to subvert state power” and sentenced him to three years imprisonment but on the condition that the imprisonment to be carried out on probation for five years.  In China a probation allows an offender’s imprisonment to be suspended under the condition that he must comply with all the rules set by the court and mostly also under strict supervision of the local authority.

During his probation at home, Gao was taken away by police on 4 February 2009 and went missing since then. In January 2010, Gao’s brother told an interviewer that the Beijing police told him that Gao “lost his way and went missing” on 25 September 2009. Anyhow, Gao appeared briefly on 28 March 2010 and called his wife and relatives and then redisappeared.  In April, he appeared in Beijing and was interviewed by Associated Press, and was also visited by a friend briefly. Shortly after, Gao disappeared from the public sight again. Almost two years later, 22 February 2012 is the date that his probation should be ended. However, Gao was not released. The Chinese authority stated that Gao violated his probation provisions and was sent back to prison to serve his term. After knowing this, Gao’s families tried to visit him. Sadly, after travelling half a China to the prison, they were turned away by the prison saying that Gao did not want to see them and he was under a rededucation period, said Geng He on twitter @Genghe1.

Now it seems finally people know his whereabouts. But then what will be the next step? Will the Chinese government return him the freedom that he deserves and let him be reunited with his wife and children who fled to the United States? Nobody knows it, but let us hope so.

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