Christianity Today announced that Gao Zhisheng is free. Thanks be to God!
I am late with this news, but it is still good to look into this story. The well known Christian Chinese lawyer, who was was condemned to eight years in prison for defending the Falun Gong believers is finally free. More or less, as you will see below.
Please continue to pray for him, as he may seek to be reunited with his family, who lives now in the US.
Here are some extracts from the media on his release.
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The BBC website writes: ‘His brother said he left the Xinjiang prison on Thursday morning and was now at his father-in-law’s home in Urumqi.’ The same website provide the following concise timeline on Gao’s activity and confrontation with Chinese communist authorities.
Gao Zhisheng timeline
• 2005: Authorities close down Gao Zhisheng’s law practice
• Dec 2006: Convicted of subversion and sentenced to house arrest
• Sept 2007: Says he was tortured during a period of detention
• Jan 2009: Disappears; last seen accompanied by security officials
• Mar 2010: Reappeared for a month before disappearing again
• Dec 2011: State media says he has been jailed for three years
• Jan 2012: Gao revealed to be in Xinjiang prison
• August 2014: Gao freed from jail
Asia News also writes:
Authorities in the western province of Xinjiang have released the Christian lawyer and human rights activist Gao Zhisheng, one of the most critical and best known throughout China. Despite having been released from prison – after 3 years – after serving his full sentence, the dissident is not really free. Since leaving prison, yesterday, he has been under the constant escort of provincial security agents; Moreover, it is not yet able to talk on the phone with his family and friends.
His older brother Gao Zhiyi went to pick him up at the prison, but since then – according to his wife Geng He, who is currently in the United States – “it is impossible to talk to him.” The well-known activist Hu Jia, a family friend, said he had spoken to his brother: “He explained that Gao’s teeth are ruined and he is now looking for treatment in Urumqi [capital of Xinjiang ed.] Once he has been seen, they want to return in their native village of Yulin, Shaanxi province”.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide also comments on this important event:
CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said, “We welcome reports that rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng has been released and reunited with his brother. Gao Zhisheng, sometimes called ‘the conscience of China’, has been through years of imprisonment, torture and enforced disappearance. We call on the Chinese government to grant Gao his full freedom, without any further conditions or restrictions on him or his family in China.”
Zhisheng, 50, left the remote Shaya Prison in Xinjiang on Thursday 7 August after completing a three-year sentence for ‘inciting to subvert state power’ – a charge often used by China against government critics, say Human Rights Watch.
He is now said to be staying at his father-in-law’s home in Urumqi but with a conditional freedom.
According the US-based Chinese human rights campaigner, Bob Fu, his wife, Geng He spoke to Zhisheng but could tell that security officers were with him.
‘Zhisheng is still far away from true freedom,’ says Fu, a former Tiananmen protester and refugee, who now runs China Aid.
The New York Times also writes about this event:
Although a prison officer had told the family that Mr. Gao was due for release Thursday, his wife, Geng He, who lives in San Francisco, endured hours of uncertainty waiting for confirmation of his release, and then spoke to him for a few moments, she said. In 2009, Ms. Geng and the couple’s daughter and son escaped surveillance and fled to the United States, and she said she hoped Mr. Gao would be allowed to join them there.
“I could finally hear my husband’s voice,” Ms. Geng said. “I asked him how he was and how his health was, and he told me that his teeth were in bad shape, and I wanted to ask more, but there was a sound of many people and then my sister took the phone and said it would be impossible to continue talking to him.”