Wall Street Journal: Gao Zhisheng Disappears

The Wall Street Journal

By The Editorial Board
Aug. 20, 2017 3:53 p.m. ET

The Chinese human-rights lawyer has vanished again.

The death of Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo in state custody last month briefly focused world attention on Chinese repression under President Xi Jinping. Now human-rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng has disappeared, perhaps into the state-security maw that presided over Mr. Liu’s death.

Gao Zhisheng in 2015.
Photo: Paul Traynor/Associated Press

Family members in exile in the U.S., who talk to him regularly on the phone, say Mr. Gao disappeared from his home in remote Shaanxi province earlier this month. Mr. Gao has been living under house arrest since 2014, surveilled by Chinese security forces. Local police say they don’t know where he is.

Mr. Gao has been incarcerated, tortured and released several times since 2006, when he was charged for “inciting subversion” for defending such clients as Falun Gong worshippers and factory workers. Yet Mr. Gao remained unbowed, thanks in part to his Christian faith. He went public with gruesome details of his torture, called for the removal of the Communist Party and advocated for a democratic China.

Mr. Gao may have been detained because he recently gave an interview to a Hong Kong magazine reiterating his political beliefs. Or the regime could be rounding up dissidents before the Party Congress this fall to avoid dissent about corruption or the lack of freedom during what is supposed to be a celebration of Mr. Xi’s consolidation of power.

Human-rights lawyers like Mr. Gao have been a particular target of state suppression, perhaps because they make their case by citing the words of Chinese law that embarrass the regime’s claims to legitimacy. The world should keep shining a light on these Chinese patriots, not least during the Party Congress.

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