By M. Ulric Killion
By way of an update, following the conviction and sentencing of Chinese lawyer Gao Zhisheng, during the past few years his whereabouts have been a mystery. In the way of an update about his current status, as recently reported by the New York Times, on March 28, 2012, his wife, Gao He said that her father and Mr. Gao’s brother had been allowed a half-hour visit with him at a prison in the western region of Xinjiang province.
For those unaware, Gao was convicted and sentenced for violation of the crime of inciting subversion of state power, which is China’s “Law on Guarding State Secrets.” Although Gao was earlier granted probation, he was later found to be in violation of the terms of probation and subsequently returned to prison.
In the earlier period of his legal career Gao persecuted both Christians and adherents of Falun Gong. He also did so while notably, though seemingly contradictory, devoting his time and energy to the representation of victims of medical malpractice and farmers who had lost their land to development.
The latter commitment to his clients, however, would eventually overshadow his former deeds, such as his persecution of Christians and those belonging to Falun Gong. This is because Gao would eventually find himself on the road to increasing troubles with Beijing when, in 2005, he renounced his Communist Party membership and then commences the practice of criticizing, by letters to Chinese leaders, China’s government.
Additionally, and further adding to Gao’s troubles, the letters to party leaders notwithstanding, he would also find himself challenging the party apparatus (i.e., the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)) by taking on politically sensitive cases, which would ultimately expose shortcomings of China’s legal system.
In the midst of Gao’s history as both an advocate and now prisoner, his plight has taken on a certain notoriety, because the international community took a great interest in his plight, as seen in the concerns of many, which range from the White House, European Union (EU), United Nations (UN), and human rights organizations.
Otherwise, for now, there is an update on Gao’s whereabouts, and a clear indication by his wife, Gao He, as the New York Times reported, that he is both “alive and in good health.”
All Rights Reserved by M. Ulric Killion, 2012.