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China: Human Rights Lawyer Alive

On March 28, human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng, who has been missing for more than a year, contacted his wife and children, according to ChinaAid Association.

Gao’s wife, Geng He, and children were relieved to hear from him after such a long time. Geng He hopes her husband can rejoin the family in the United States soon. In recent months, rumors had circulated that Gao had died of torture at the hands of Chinese government officials.

“Gao’s brief phone conversations with western media on Sunday mark the first official contact the public has had with him since his abduction by police on Feb. 4, 2009,” ChinaAid reported. Gao told the Associated Press and Reuters news agencies that he was released from Chinese custody six months ago and taken to Wutai Shan mountain, a Buddhist landmark in Shanxi province. He declined to give other details on his condition, saying legally he could not give interviews.

ChinaAid reported that Li Heping, Gao’s friend and colleague, had also spoken to Gao on Sunday. “It’s certainly him,” Heping said. “I spoke to him over the phone. I could tell from the way he spoke and the way he spoke to me that it’s him.”

ChinaAid President Bob Fu confirmed that Gao is alive. “After examining Gao’s voice in the interview, I too am convinced that it is Gao,” he said. On Feb. 4, 2009, Gao Zhisheng was abducted from his hometown by Chinese secret police. Since 2005, Gao has been repeatedly arrested, imprisoned and severely tortured by Chinese authorities, mostly for his work defending Chinese Christians. In 2006, he and a group of prominent human rights lawyers created the Association of Human Rights Attorneys for Chinese Christians. In 2007, he was arrested and spent more than 50 days behind bars, where he was also tortured. “I was beaten so badly that my whole body began shaking uncontrollably on the floor,” Gao wrote of his torture in an open letter.

The Voice of the Martyrs and ChinaAid has lobbied for Gao’s release from prison, and The Voice of the Martyrs has featured Gao on its Web site at www.prisoneralert.com. The Chinese government would not acknowledge that Gao was in one of its prisons, so letters of encouragement for Gao were mailed to the Chinese embassy in Washington, D.C.

VOM encourages you to pray that Gao will soon be able to rejoin his family. Praise God that Gao is safe for now, and ask God to encourage him and his family during this challenging time. Pray that God will give Gao the grace to forgive his persecutors, and pray that the Holy Spirit will minister to him.

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