Name: Gao Zhisheng
Country/Area of Origin: China
Background: Gao Zhisheng is one of the most widely respected human rights lawyers in China, notably for his work defending religious minorities and victims of state persecution, highlighting the torture of Falun Gong practitioners, and defending political activists and critics of the Chinese Communist Party.
Reason for Arrest:
In the summer of 2006, Gao Zhisheng was arbitrarily detained and disappeared, and in December of the same year, he was charged with ‘inciting to undermine the state’. Gao experienced torture and arbitrary detention for six weeks, and in November 2007 he was officially placed under house arrest, during which he was revoked access to his bank account, denied from family visits, and his family also reported being monitored and pestered by authorities.
Gao disappeared again in April 2010, and no news was released regarding his status and whereabouts until December 2011 when it was announced that he was re-arrested with a three-year prison sentence for allegedly violating the terms of his probation. After his release from prison in August 2014, Gao still languished under house arrest for three years until he escaped on 13 April 2017; he lived without restraint for just three weeks before once again vanishing into police custody without formal charges.
- In January 2021, it was reported by Gao’s wife, Geng He, that Gao Zhisheng’s sister had commit suicide by jumping into a river months earlier in May 2020. Geng explained that Gao’s sister had suffered from insomnia and depression ever since authorities raided their family home in 2006; her condition only worsened once Gao was re-arrested in 2017. “[After that], she became depressed and unwell, and couldn’t sleep at night. She attempted suicide by jumping into a river … the family said the completed suicide was her third attempt at suicide by jumping into a river. The first two times, someone rescued her.” Jubilee Campaign offers our sincerest condolences to the family of Gao Zhisheng and his sister, and we call for an immediate end to China’s practice of arbitrarily detaining and torturing human rights defenders and lawyers.
- April 2020 marked the three year anniversary of Gao’s most recent arbitrary detention. His wife, Geng He, reported that she has no knowledge of his whereabouts, and Pastor Liu Yi, a supporter of the couple, revealed that Gao is suffering from poor physical conditions due to torture.