Gao Zhisheng Has Become Symbol Of Chinese Religious Persecution
Chinese Christian and human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng is believed to be in police custody in Beijing after he escaped his Shaanxi home in August. Mr. Zhisheng had been under house arrest when with the help of his friends, he ran away and hid in a vacation house in Jiexiu City for 23 days. Shaanxi police sent out a large number of officers across the border to recapture him, and while his friends were detained, he has vanished again.
Li Fawang, one of the friends who helped Mr. Zhisheng escape, has recounted the encounter. Mr. Fawang was released on October 26 with bail pending trial. Four days later, he reached out to a reporter to describe the details of the escape, and the events that followed.
Escape to Shanxi Province
Mr. Zhisheng left his home with the help of another friend, named Shao Zhongguo. The two snuck out and met with Li Fawang in the neighboring Shanxi province. Mr. Fawang had prior plans with a local accomplice for them to find accommodation for the time being. They remained there for a period of about three weeks when they were eventually discovered and Li and Shao were arrested.
Li and Gao met before he was transported back to Shaanxi for detention. The meeting was, however so short that Li was not able to utter a word to his friend. It is not known where Gao is since that time.
Gao’s wife, Geng took to Twitter to express her distress, writing “Waiting, waiting…Finally, the 19th Party Congress is over, yet we still have no news of Gao Zhisheng.”
Gao’s disappearance comes at a time when the Chinese government appears to be doubling down on its persecution of Christians and other religious people. President Xi Jinping made an address to the 19th Party Congress, where he was quoted as saying that people loyal to the Communist Party of China should avoid religious myths and focus on the country.
Grace Gao, Mr. Zhisheng’s daughter, is in the UK to talk to policymakers about her father’s case and the general human rights situation in China.