Whelp, time to possibly endanger my ability to ever see Shanghai’s skyline or taste Beijing’s street food. Again.
Do you hate lawyers? If so, I hope you're at the least a little discriminatory in the types of lawyers you hate. Oh, sure, there's the ambulance chasers, and I'm sure divorce lawyers are not people anyone hopes to ever have to deal with. But to hate defense lawyers - to hate people who defend people from government prosecution and/or persecution - is to be at least somewhat complicit with what they are defending their clients against. And where is the most dangerous place to be such a lawyer? How about Communist China?
Gao Zhisheng was born into poverty. He joined the People’s Liberation Army and was a devout Chinese Communist Party member. Gao began studying law in 1991 after reading in a newspaper about how the country needed lawyers as part of the modernization (of sorts) of its legal system; he saw it as a way to help people in need as directed by his Christian faith. He passed the bar in 1995, and his early year helping defend clients in human rights cases was so successful that China’s Ministry of Justice named him one of the country’s ten best lawyers in 2001.
However, it wouldn’t be long before his defense of these silly “human rights” things began to rub the CCP the wrong way. Among others, he aided practitioners of Falun Gong/Falun Dafa, a meditative offshoot of Buddhism which is seen as an extremist practice and banned by the CCP; its practitioners have regularly been subject to extrajudicial violence and murder. In 2005, he resigned from the CCP in disgust of how his clients had been treated. Harassment of him, his family, and his law practice by government agents and bureaucracies began soon after.
His first “disappearance” occurred in 2006, during which he was tortured to the point of writing false confessions of his wrongdoing and convicted of subversion against the government. However, after being released, he recanted his confessions and spoke openly of his torture, which included being shocked by electric prods and having toothpicks inserted in his genitals. In 2007, he “disappeared” and was tortured again after writing letters to Western politicians pleading with them to boycott the 2008 Beijing Olympics. More disappearances followed in 2009 and 2010. In 2011, he was imprisoned due to violating his probation from his 2006 conviction; he was placed under house arrest after his release in 2014.
Unfortunately, despite his age and poor health due to being tortured, malnourished and denied medical care, the government has apparently decided he’s still too much of a troublemaker, and he “disappeared” again in the 13th of August, 2017.
Will the world ever see Gao again? Well, one way to make sure he gets out of this alive and mostly intact is to make it politically inconvenient for the government to keep him under detention. To that regard, the weekly anti-CCP news show China Uncensored featured Gao’s story on their latest episode and has started a campaign, using the image above, to help spread the news about Gao.
Steemit won't let me embed the video into my post, so if you want to learn more, please have a look here. If you want to skip to the part about Gao, skip ahead to the 15:10 mark. (Surprisingly, it appears that this site is accessible within China itself… for now.)
The world needs more lawyers like Gao. Please help spread the word.