Missing Human Rights Attorney Gao Zhisheng Confirmed 'Alive'
March 30, 2010
SHANXI, China, (christiansunite.com) -- On Sunday, March 28, 2010, missing human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng spoke to his wife and children for the first time in over a year, confirming he is still alive. False rumors of his death, torture, and escape from the custody of the Chinese Government have shrouded Gao's absence with mystery. Gao's brief phone conversations with western media on Sunday mark the first official contact the public has had with him since his abduction by police on February 4, 2009.
Gao informed AP and Reuters reporters that he had been released from detention six months ago, and had taken up residence at Wutai Shan mountain, a Buddhist landmark in northern Shanxi province. He refused to give details on his condition or whereabouts, saying he could not legally give interviews.
Close friend and fellow human rights lawyer Li Heping confirmed he had also spoken with Gao on Sunday. Gao told him he had "friends around him"--indicating he was being held under close surveillance by Chinese authorities.
Gao's wife and children expressed great relief and joy in being able to speak with him and hope he will be allowed to rejoin his family soon.
Geng He's parents have been severely harassed in recent months, for which Gao feels guilty. He told the Associated Press, "I just want to be in peace and quiet for a while and be reunited with my family. Most people belong with family. I have not been with mine for a long time. This is a mistake and I want to correct this mistake."
While on his campaign in Europe to promote awareness of Gao's cause, ChinaAid President Bob Fu attributed the breakthrough to increased international pressure.
"We are thankful that Gao is alive and praise the more than 124,000 supporters in over 180 countries around the world who have signed the petition to Free Gao," said Mr. Fu. "Due to the international pressure levied by these faithful supporters, the Chinese Government has been forced to respond and to allow Gao Zhisheng to reconnect with his loved ones."
Mr. Fu warned that the recent contact with Gao is only the beginning. "...Gao is not free yet. His movements are still being watched and monitored. He is not free to speak publicly or without surveillance. We must continue to press the Chinese government to free Gao Zhisheng, to uncensor his movements and to allow him to reunite with his family."