News / Asia

UN Experts Denounce China's Secret Detention of Human-Rights Lawyer

Gao Zhisheng, a human rights lawyer, speaks at a tea house in Beijing, China, April 7, 2010 (file photo).
Gao Zhisheng, a human rights lawyer, speaks at a tea house in Beijing, China, April 7, 2010 (file photo).
Lisa Schlein

U.N. human-rights experts are denouncing the continued secret detention of Gao Zhisheng, a prominent Chinese lawyer who was arrested in 2006.  Experts are renewing their appeal for Gao's freedom on the day that Chinese writer Chen Wei was sentenced to nine years in jail by a Beijing court for allegedly inciting subversive writing.

The UN experts say they are concerned at recent news that a Beijing court has withdrawn Gao Zhisheng's five-year probation and ordered him to serve a three-year sentence.  His probation was to end this week.

Gao's whereabouts have been unknown for the last 20 months.  This is causing great concern in human-rights circles, including the U.N.'s top human rights official, Navi Pillay.  Her spokesman, Rupert Colville, says the high commissioner is very disturbed by the court's decision to extend Gao's probation with a three-year prison sentence.

"For the past 20 months, Gao has been subject to strict monitoring measures by the Public Security Bureau in what appears to be a form of house arrest in an unknown location," said Colville.  "The case is illustrative of a trend of secret detention and disappearances of human-rights defenders, which the high commissioner for human rights, Navi Pillay, and other U.N. human-rights bodies have already criticized on several occasions in recent years."

In 2005, Gao's license to practice law in China was revoked and his firm was shut down, allegedly for calling on the government to end abuse of religious groups.   He was subsequently arrested in 2006 because of his work as an advocate for human rights in China, and accused of subversion of state power.

Colville says the U.N. high commissioner has raised the specific case of Gao, along with a number of others, with Chinese authorities twice in the past seven months.  In response to a question, he tells VOA he does not see these appeals to the Chinese government as an exercise in futility.  

He says every time the government responds to inquiries, the U.N. office receives a bit more information about Gao and about other cases of human-rights concern.

"So far as we are aware, in their responses - and the government has responded quite often to these queries - in their responses they never once mentioned that he was violating the probation rules," said Colville.  "So, therefore, that is why it is even more mysterious as to why just as his probation ends, suddenly his full sentence is imposed on him.  We are also planning to urgently seek information from the government on his health conditions because there are unconfirmed reports concerning that."  

Colville says Gao's continued detention is taking place just as a troubling new amendment is being proposed to China's criminal law procedure.  He says the amendment is likely to permit the legalization of secret detentions.  He says this will represent a major setback for civil and political rights in China.

You May Like

UN: 1 Million Somalis at Risk of Hunger

Group warns region is in dire need of humanitarian aid, with at least 200,000 children under age of five acutely malnourished as drought hits southern, central part of nation More

Human Rights Groups Allege Supression of Freedoms in Thailand

Thailand’s military, police have suppressed release of independent report assessing human rights in kingdom during first 100 days of latest coup More

Jennifer Lawrence Contacts FBI After Nude Photos Hacked

'Silver Linings Playbook' actress' photos were posted on image-sharing forum 4chan; Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into matter More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forcesi
X
September 02, 2014 12:58 PM
A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Internet, Technology Offer New Tools for Journalists

The Internet and rapidly evolving technology is quickly changing how people receive news and how journalists deliver it. There are now more ways to tell a story than ever before. One school in Los Angeles is teaching the next generation of journalists with the help of a state-of-the-art newsroom. Elizabeth Lee has this report.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.

AppleAndroid