(Shaya, Xinjiang—March 28, 2012) ChinaAid has confirmed that relatives of prominent Chinese human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng were finally allowed to visit him in prison last weekend, putting to rest fears that the pioneer in the growing Christian legal defense movement in China had died during the two-plus years of his forced disappearance into police custody.
Gao’s older brother and his father-in-law were permitted a half-hour meeting with Gao on March 24 at the Shaya prison, in a remote part of Xinjiang in far western China. They were able to see each other through a glass window and converse using a prison phone.
Gao’s wife, Geng He, telephoned ChinaAid’s founder and president Rev. Bob Fu on Tuesday night confirming the meeting and providing details.
Gao’s wife said he looked fine during the weekend prison visit, which was conducted under the watchful eye of prison officials and Public Security Bureau officials. The PSB instructed Gao’s family members not to talk to the outside world about the visit.
PSB officers from Gao’s hometown in Shaanxi province had accompanied Gao’s older brother, Gao Zhiyi, on the entire trip from central China, a journey of more than 3000 kilometers (more than 2000 miles) to Shaya.
During their half-hour visit, Gao asked his brother to deposit 600 yuan ($100) into his prison account. Gao also asked about wellbeing of his family.
Gao’s brother cried a lot and said to Gao's wife, “I am relieved after finally being able to see that he is at least alive.”
Geng He expressed her deep gratitude to ChinaAid for its advocacy and legal and financial support.
ChinaAid’s Fu said, “We are glad to finally get this good news.” But he added, “For the sake of true justice and the rule of law in China, the Chinese government should immediately release attorney Gao without any conditions. Gao is totally innocent.”
Gao was sentenced on Dec. 22, 2006, to a three-year suspended prison term for “subversion” and was placed on probation for five years. On Dec. 16, 2011, just days before the end of the five-year probation period, China’s central government announced through the official Xinhua News Agency that the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court had sentenced Gao to a three-year prison term because he “had seriously violated probation rules for a number of times, which led to the court decision to withdraw the probation.”
On Jan. 10, 2012, Gao Zhiyi traveled to Shaya prison to see his brother, but prison authorities denied his request for a meeting, saying that Gao was under a three-month “observation period.”
According to reliable sources, on Feb. 24 this year, when Gao Zhiyi went to Beijing to make inquiries at the Beijing Intermediate Court, the Beijing Public Security Bureau and other relevant government agencies about how to visit Gao, he was taken into the “control” of the Beijing Public Security Bureau and “escorted” back to his hometown in Shaanxi province.
However, the PSB did agree to help facilitate communication with the Shaya prison authorities with regard to his request for a prison visit.
On March 15, Gao Zhiyi received a phone call from the Shaya prison authorities telling him to prepare to visit once his brother was deemed obedient to the prison authorities.
On March 24, Gao Zhiyi, escorted by two police officers who traveled with him the entire distance across the breadth of China from his hometown, arrived at Shaya prison.