News / Asia

US Rights Group: Prominent Lawyer Tortured in Jail in China

FILE - Chinese human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng is seen in Beijing, 2006.
FILE - Chinese human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng is seen in Beijing, 2006.
Reuters

One of China's most prominent human rights lawyers, who was released last week after three years in jail, was physically and psychologically abused by prison authorities, a U.S. rights group said late on Wednesday.

The treatment of Gao Zhisheng, whose secretive detention has also drawn criticism from the U.N. human rights body, had been one of the thorniest human rights disputes between China and the United States.

Gao, 50, a Beijing-based lawyer, was held in a small cell with minimal light in the far western region of Xinjiang, according to Freedom Now, a Washington D.C.-based group that advocates for prisoners of conscience, including Gao.

It said Gao was fed a single slice of bread and piece of cabbage once a day and had lost roughly 50 lbs. He lost many teeth from malnutrition.

“I am completely devastated by what the Chinese government has done to my husband,” Freedom Now cited Gao's wife, Geng He, as saying. Geng lives in exile in San Francisco with the couple's children.

An official from the Ministry of Public Security at Shaya county in Xinjiang said she was unclear about Gao's situation. The Xinjiang government office could not be reached for comment. Geng did not answer calls to her phone.

A combative rights advocate who tackled many causes opposed by the ruling Communist Party, Gao was sentenced in 2006 to three years in jail for “inciting subversion of state power,” a charge often used to punish critics of one-party rule.

He was put on probation for five years, formally sparing him from serving the prison sentence, but his family was kept under constant surveillance and he was sporadically taken into custody during that period.

In 2011, state media reported that Gao was back in jail. He has said in interviews that he was tortured at times.

Gao attained international publicity for his campaigning for religious freedom, particularly for members of the banned religious group Falun Gong. He had also defended underground Christians and villagers embroiled in property disputes with government officials.

President Xi Jinping's administration has stepped up a crackdown on dissent, detaining and jailing activists, muzzling Internet critics and strengthening restrictions on journalists in what some rights groups call the worst suppression of free expression in recent years.

Separately, Chinese authorities arrested on Wednesday dissident writer Lu Gengsong, on a charge of “subversion of state power,” his lawyer, Mo Shaoping, said.

Police have denied Mo's requests to meet with Lu, saying that Lu's crimes “endangered national security,” Mo said, adding that Lu's arrest could be due to his involvement in the banned China Democracy Party.

If convicted, Lu faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, said U.S.-based rights group, Human Rights in China.

You May Like

Hong Kong Democracy Calls Spread to Macau

Macau and Hong Kong are China’s two 'special administrative regions' which gives them a measure of autonomy More

After Nearly 2 Years, Pistorius Remains Elusive

Reporter Anita Powell reflects on her experience covering the Olympic athlete's murder trial More

Kenyan Coastal Town Struggles With Deadly June Attacks

Three months after al-Shabab militants allegedly attacked their town, some Mpeketoni residents are still bitter, question who was really behind the assaults More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africai
X
Luis Ramirez
September 15, 2014 11:01 PM
President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africa

President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid