Article by Bob Fu, and ChinaAid staff
Original Chinese report: March 26, 2010
Translation Revised: March 30, 2010
CHINAAID–Throughout March, Pastor Bob Fu, President of ChinaAid, has joined Christian human rights attorney Li Baiguang in visiting Christian churches and international human rights organizations in the UK, Northern Ireland and other countries in the EU, appealing and praying for persecuted Chinese Christians and advocating their human rights.
“Called upon by the Holy Spirit, we are traveling here and there for the persecuted brothers,” said Pastor Fu in his latest update. “We have decided to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.” Taking on the call to justice from a Christian worldview, Pastor Fu reminded ChinaAid staff and friends of ChinaAid’s mission, as outlined in Matthew 25, “Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was hungry, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in; I was naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me; I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
1. European Churches and Leaders Press for Information on Gao Zhisheng
Since Christian human rights attorney Gao Zhisheng disappeared on February 4, 2009, the Chinese government has released conflicting reports about his whereabouts and condition, both in public and in private. Bringing Gao’s case to light with his talks with European leaders, Pastor Bob Fu found sincere concern. “The churches in Europe and the high-ranking leaders have questions on four issues: Where in the world is Gao Zhisheng? What is his legal status now? How is his health now? What has happened in the past 400 (plus) days?”
Pastor Fu was encouraged. “None of the people we’ve met finds the current explanation from the authorities acceptable.” On March 22nd and March 23rd, Pastor Fu and Li Baiguang met respectively with Edward McMillan-Scott (Vice-President of the European Parliament), the chairman of Committee on Foreign Affairs of the European Parliament, the president of the European Parliament, and the senior advisors for foreign policy in Brussels and London. They also met with members of the European Parliament from various parties within Finland, Latvia and Holland.
All parties showed great concern on the current whereabouts of Attorney Gao Zhisheng, particularly those dealing with Chinese affairs in the European Commission and those in charge of human rights relations.
“Everyone with whom we have discussed these issues (regardless of their position as legislators, enforcement officers or policy-makers) agree that it is totally unacceptable for the Chinese government to refuse to tell people where he is being held and what his legal status is. It is totally unacceptable that no one knows what has happened to him in the last 400 days.”
In the summit talk between the UK and China, including the press conference held last Tuesday by Foreign Secretary Miliband and the Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, a list of several major prisoners of conscience was addressed as a special issue–Gao Zhisheng topped the list. “So far,” said Pastor Fu, “the Chinese foreign minister is the highest ranking Chinese official who has responded to questions on Gao Zhisheng’s case. For the first time, there was a positive and direct response on Gao Zhisheng’s case.”
2. House of Lords shows concern for persecuted House Churches in China.
On March 25th, the House of Lords in the UK held a special roundtable meeting, which was presided over by Lord David Alton. Bob Fu and Li Baiguang were invited as special guests to deliver a speech on the topic of “Rule of Law and Religious Freedom in China.” Bob Fu elaborated on the disappearance of Gao Zhisheng, and the worsening of religious freedom in China in the past year, especially the sentencing to labor camps of 10 church leaders in Linfen Church of Shanxi and other issues. Attorney Li Baiguang highlighted the 15-year sentence of Alimujiang, a Christian of Uyghur ethnicity and his current appeal. He also delivered a speech on this special topic of the situation the Chinese human rights attorneys find themselves in over the past year. (ChinaAid learned that Alimujiang’s sentence was upheld in a second trial verdict on March 29, 2010.)
On the morning of March 26th, Bob Fu and Li Baiguang met with staff from the China affairs division at the foreign secretary’s office. Bob Fu told them, “The Chinese government has made irresponsible speeches to the international community on the issue of Gao Zhisheng. It has said he was missing; it has said he has not suffered any torture or penalties, and it has said he is working in Urumqi. These are the conflicting messages the authorities in government agencies have directly delivered to the international community. We don’t dare to believe them all. Leaders in the EU, including leaders in the UK’s leaders in foreign affairs, have many doubts on these messages.”
3. ChinaAid appeals for the persecuted Chinese Christians.
Pastor Bob Fu’s entourage continues to appeal in Europe for the persecuted churches and Christians in China. He told reporters: “Next week, we will meet with leaders in Northern Ireland Parliament in Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland, where we will further appeal for the concern from the international community on the disappearance of Attorney Gao Zhisheng. We also hope that the Chinese government can give a responsible, convincing, and confirmed explanation on the more than 400 days of forced disappearance of Gao Zhisheng.”
While talking about the confidence in their efforts, Mr. Fu said, “We will make indefatigable efforts until Attorney Gao Zhisheng himself can come out to give the explanation and until he can talk on the phone with his family members, his wife and his children.”
Mr. Fu informed the press. “On Thursday, March 25th, the mainstream newspaper in the UK Guardian carried a report and specially mentioned Gao Zhisheng’s case. It also mentioned that ChinaAid created the website “FreeGao.com” to collect signatures to appeal for the release of Attorney Gao. By mid-March of this year, 125,000 people from over 180 countries have signed their real names, including those from mainland China, Hungary, Sudan, many countries in Africa and Asia. Attorney Gao Zhisheng disappeared and the international community is concerned; the entire world is showing its concern on this matter.”
In Belfast, the capital city of Northern Ireland, Bob Fu met with several Christians. The Christians told Pastor Fu, “Since Brother Gao Zhisheng disappeared, we have been praying for him every day. People far way in Ireland are also concerned about Attorney Gao Zhisheng.” Pastor Fu thanked them and told them, “This Sunday, I will give two sermons respectively in two churches in Northern Ireland and I will make a special request to the churches in Northern Ireland to continue to pray for the current condition of Brother Gao Zhisheng, and continue to appeal for him.”
On Monday, March 30, Bob and Li met with seven leaders from the Northern Ireland Assembly, including the First Minister Mr. Peter Robinson, who expressed particular concern for Gao Zhisheng and Alimujiang Yimiti.
Perspective on Persecution
When Pastor Fu sees the churches in Europe, people of all party affiliations, politicians from all circles of life, government officials, attorneys and people of other industries are all showing their concern for Attorney Gao, he told reporters: “I feel moved and encouraged! As long as Brother Gao Zhisheng has not beenAttorney Gao Zhisheng disappeared and the international community is concerned., we will not give up appealing for him. We will all look for him.”
ChinaAid Association learned on March 28, that Gao Zhisheng contacted his wife and children in the United States for the first time since his abduction on February 4, 2009. Gao has since spoke with several western media. Thanks to international pressure coordinated by campaign efforts, the Chinese Government has been forced to allow Gao Zhisheng to contact the public. He is still be held under close surveillance by the Chinese government, and his movements and communication restricted. (See the latest CAA report on Gao Zhisheng)
These phone conversations with Gao Zhisheng are just the first step. ChinaAid will not rest until Gao is guaranteed his civil and basic human rights according to the law, and is reunited safely with his family. With support from the international community, we can realize the dream of human rights and religious freedom for all in China.
For more information, visit www.FreeGao.com.
Special Report: Bob Fu Appeals to European Leaders for Persecuted Chinese Christians
Article by Bob Fu, and ChinaAid staff