In early 2006, he organized a hunger strike to draw attention to human rights abuses and later that year received a suspended three-year prison sentence for “inciting subversion”, with one year deprivation of political rights. The authorities have kept Gao Zhisheng and his family under constant surveillance ever since.
On 13 September 2007, Gao Zhisheng wrote an open letter to the US Congress saying he did not support the country’s staging of the 2008 Olympics. Nine days later, plainclothes police officers came to his home, stripped him naked and beat him unconscious. He was held incommunicado for nearly six weeks and subjected to beatings and repeated electric shocks to his genitals. After he was released his acquaintances described him as “a broken man”.
In February 2009, shortly after his wife and children fled China, Gao Zhisheng was taken away by security agents and disappeared completely. International pressure for information about him elicited confusing answers from Chinese officials, claiming first that he had gone missing and then that he "was where he was supposed to be".
On March 31, 2010, he suddenly reappeared in northern China. During his brief contacts with the outside world, he said that he was giving up activism and now wished only to be reunited with his family. But only a few weeks later, before his wish could be realized, he again disappeared, reportedly into police custody. Enquiries from his family and friends have met with no answers from Chinese authorities.
For more information and to take action on Gao's case please visit Amnesty International Group 22's Gao Zhisheng page.
Updates December 2011
- Amnesty International 'Shocked' Following Reports of Chinese Human Rights Lawyer Gao Zhisheng's Return to Prison | Amnesty International USA
- U.S. State Department Daily Press Briefing - December 16, 2011
- Gao Zhisheng, Missing Chinese Lawyer, Gets New Prison Term - NYTimes.com
- China jails lawyer Gao Zhisheng for 3 more years, confirming status after long disappearance - The Washington Post
Reports of Gao's treatment in Chinese custody:
- AP Exclusive: Missing Chinese lawyer told of abuse.
- BBC News - Wife of missing China activist Zhisheng speaks out
- New York Times Op-Ed March 27, 2010: The Dissident's Wife