The Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice is in agreement with the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in demanding the Chinese Government immediately release Chinese human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng. A judgment by the U.N. Working Group, issued in July, held that the imprisonment and reported torture of Zhisheng is a flagrant violation of international law. That judgment was made public yesterday by Freedom Now, the human rights legal advocacy organization that filed the U.N. petition on Gao's behalf.
In 2001, Mr. Gao was listed by the Chinese Ministry of Justice as one of the top ten lawyers in China. However, when he turned his legal skills to the defense of persecuted religious minorities he became a target of persecution himself. Mr. Gao has been repeatedly imprisoned and tortured by Chinese authorities, and since April, 2010 he has been held incommunicado.
According to Freedom Now, a Lantos Foundation Front Line Fund grant recipient, the Chinese Foreign Ministry has had no response to the U.N. Rights Group’s July judgment.
Writing in yesterday's New York Times, Geng He, Mr. Gao's wife, warns that the Chinese government is using the turmoil in the Middle East as an opportunity to further tighten its iron grip on human rights activists while the world’s attention is diverted elsewhere. Dr. Katrina Lantos-Swett, President of the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice said, "At a time when a historically unprecedented movement for human rights and democracy is sweeping through repressive nations of the Middle East and North Africa, the United States cannot close its eyes to the brutal crackdown by Chinese authorities against brave human rights leaders like Gao Zhisheng. We welcome the judgment of the U.N. Working Group and call on President Obama to ask for the immediate release of a true human rights hero, Mr. Gao Zhisheng.
The Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice seeks to strengthen the role of human rights in American foreign policy and to be a vital voice in standing up for our nation’s most important values of decency and dignity. Through our Front Line Fund Program we support human rights defenders across the globe. We are pleased to support the outstanding work of Freedom Now.