Chinese Police Refuse to Register Human Rights Lawyer as Missing

International concern for Gao Zhisheng, outspoken critic of state security, who has not been seen since April.

Chinese police have refused to register an outspoken human rights lawyer who has not been seen since April as a missing person, his elder brother said today.

The disappearance of Gao Zhisheng has caused international concern, particularly because he had previously made detailed claims of torture at the hands of security officials during detentions.

Gao Zhiyi said he last saw his younger brother at their family home in the central province of Shaanxi in early April. “Our family is very worried about him so I came to Beijing to report the situation to police, but they will not register the case,” he said.
“They told me: ‘The situation occurred before, so just wait and you will find him again.'”
He added: “The last time I saw my brother he just said he would return to Beijing to ‘spend some relaxing days’. After that we couldn’t find him.”

Human rights groups reported in February 2009 that security officers had taken the lawyer from his home overnight. He was not seen for more than a year and friends and human rights campaigners feared he might be dead.

Once lauded by the government, he angered authorities by taking on clients including members of banned spiritual movement Falun Gong.

As international concern about his case mounted, he suddenly re-emerged in March this year and gave several interviews. The committed Christian said he had been living at a sacred Buddhist site, miles away from his birthplace or Beijing home.

Friends who spoke to him said they did not believe he was speaking freely. Shortly afterwards he vanished again.

In a tweet, lawyer Teng Biao – who said he accompanied Gao Zhiyi to the police station – described Gao Zhisheng as China‘s bravest lawyer, citing his persistence in exposing the truth.

Nicholas Bequelin, Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch, said: “Gao Zhisheng is definitely one of the most worrying cases.

“The authorities seem to be deliberately using criminal methods as a way of silencing a human rights defender and intimidating others.”

Earlier this year, foreign minister Yang Jiechi said Gao’s rights had been respected and that he had been convicted of incitement to subvert state power – apparently referring to the suspended sentence he received in 2006.

In a separate development, more activists and dissidents have complained of increased pressure following the awarding of the Nobel peace prize to jailed author Liu Xiaobo.

His wife remains under house arrest and his friend Yu Jie said in an email that police were now preventing him from leaving home, adding that he thought it might be linked to Liu’s award or a Christian meeting.

Friends of Cui Weiping, a Beijing Film Academy professor and social critic, said she was detained at a police station after security guards stopped her attending an art exhibition and concert at the Czech embassy tonight. The event was non-political but may have been considered sensitive because Václav Havel, the Czech playwright and former president, nominated Liu for the Nobel prize.

Another dissident was prevented from attending and a third decided not to go after being warned to stay at home.

Cui later tweeted that she was back home from the police station after the “very strange” incident. An employee at the station said they had not dealt with anyone of that name.

Source: The Guardian, October 22, 2010
Link: Chinese police refuse to register human rights lawyer as missing

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