(Washington, D.C.—Jan. 10, 2014) The wife of imprisoned Chinese human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng will testify before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, a caucus of the U.S. House of Representatives, in a hearing entitled “Defending Freedoms” on Jan. 16.
The goal of the hearing, which will take place at 10 a.m. EST on Thursday is to “highlight the plight of prisoners of conscience around the world,” according to an official announcement from the commission. The hearing will also explore possible strategies for gaining the release of prisoners of conscience.
Geng He, Gao’s wife, will testify along six others, including Mrs. Tran Thi Ngoc Minh, the mother of imprisoned Vietnamese labor activist Mr. Do Thi Minh Hanh.
Also testifying are Dr. Robert P. George, chair of the U.S. Commission of International Religious Freedom; Frank Jannuzi, deputy executive director of the Advocacy and Policy Department; and Natan Sharansky, chairman of the executive of The Jewish Agency for Israel.
Josh Colangelo-Bryan, pro bono attorney on behalf of imprisoned Bahraini human rights activist Nabeel Rajab and Gal Beckerman, author of When They Come for Us We’ll be Gone and The Epic Struggle to Save Soviet Jewry, will also testify.
The Defending Freedoms Project was developed in December 2012 by the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom and Amnesty International USA to “support human rights and religious freedom throughout the world with a particular focus on prisoners of conscience,” the announcement said.
Gao and Nabeel Rajab were selected as the first two individuals selected for the Defending Freedom Project when it began (https://chinaaid.org/2013/01/jailed-chinese-christian-human-rights.html).
Gao, who became a Christian in 2005, first encountered trouble with the government in December 2006, when he was charged with “inciting subversion of state power.” He was sentenced to three years in prison, but was released on five years’ probation.
Gao disappeared into police custody on Feb. 4, 2009. He reemerged on March 27, 2010, but vanished back into police custody on April 20, 2010.
On Dec. 16, 2011, the official Xinhua News Agency reported in a short, English-only dispatch that Gao had violated the terms of his parole and was being made to serve out his three-year sentence in a prison in the far western Chinese region of Xinjiang (http://www.china18.org/2013/11/blog-post_8251.html).
Gao’s wife, Geng, has previously testified before congress on behalf of her husband. Her remarks to congress can be read at https://chinaaid.org/2013/03/geng-he-speak-on-hill-for-her-husband.html.
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