Today marks the one-year anniversary of the disappearance of Gao Zhisheng, one of China’s most prominent human rights lawyers. He has not been heard from since February 4, 2009, when he was reportedly taken from his home by policemen and thugs.
The Committee to Support Chinese Lawyers remains deeply concerned about the disappearance of Mr. Gao, and the continuing reluctance of the Chinese Government to disclose any information about Mr. Gao’s whereabouts or physical well-being. Throughout the past year, the Chinese government has repeatedly ignored calls to produce photographs and videos of Mr. Gao, to provide access to him, or to even confirm that he is living. Most recently, in January 2010, a Foreign Ministry spokesman, Ma Zhaoxu, informed reporters simply that Mr. Gao “is where he should be.”
Mr. Gao is just one of many lawyers who have been detained, harassed and imprisoned as a result of their professional decision to take on clients in politically sensitive cases. As interested lawyers outside of China seeking to strengthen the role of lawyers in China and to promote their independence, we urge the Chinese government to investigate the disappearance of Gao Zhisheng, verify his whereabouts and confirm his physical safety.