The Chinese government’s persecution of human rights defense lawyer and Christian Gao Zhisheng began in 2005, when the Beijing Judicial Bureau revoked his law license and ordered his practice to shut down. In December 2006, Gao was convicted of “inciting subversion of state power” and sentenced to a three-year prison term with a five-year probation. However, he was released soon after for reasons unknown.
On Sept. 21, 2007, Gao was taken into official custody again. When he was released 50 days later, he wrote “Dark Night, Dark Hood and Kidnapping by Dark Mafia,” in which he recounted how he had been tortured, including having toothpicks inserted into his genitals.
Gao’s wife, daughter, and son fled from Beijing to the United States on Jan. 9, 2009, and less than a month later, on Feb. 4, Gao Zhisheng was seized by a dozen police officers from his apartment. He was missing for more than a year at the hands of the Chinese Government, leading to grave speculation about his whereabouts and condition.
On March 27, 2010, Gao suddenly re-appeared, though still under the surveillance of Domestic Security Protection agents. During his reappearance, Gao was able to speak with his family for the first time since his abduction and connected with friends, colleagues, and even international media, specifically Charles Hutzler of the Associated Press, who published Gao’s account of his abduction.
In mid-April, Gao visited his in-laws in Xinjiang, telling them he would be flying home to Beijing at 10 a.m. on April 20, but Gao never made it to his apartment after leaving his in-law’s home. No one knew of his whereabouts for more than 1-1/2 years when the official Xinhua News Agency reported in a short English-only dispatch on Dec. 16, 2011, that Gao had violated the terms of his parole and was being sent back to jail, in far western Xinjiang to serve his original three-year prison term.
Although Gao was released from prison on Aug. 7, 2014, he has been under strict surveillance and denied freedom of movement, including access to desperately-needed medical and dental care.
Throughout the years, Gao has been an unyielding and iconic advocate for justice in the Chinese courts and has been nominated twice for the Nobel Peace Prize (2008 and 2010).
In 2016, Gao published a book smuggled out of China by ChinaAid, and it was released in English in January 2017.
On Aug. 13, 2017, Gao’s brother discovered him missing from his home, and his whereabouts remain unknown.