Senator, Wife of Detained Rights Activist Appeal for U.S. Help

The wife of China's most famous human rights lawyer was present during a Congressional session Thursday when Sen. Bryon Dorgan (D-N.D.) spoke on the Senate floor about the case of Gao Zhisheng, who remains detained in an unknown location since being kidnapped by Chinese officials in February.

Dorgan reminded members of the Senate that after Gao sent a letter to the U.S. Congress in 2007, he was kidnapped and severely tortured by Chinese authorities for over 50 days. Now two years later, officials have again kidnapped and detained Gao while refusing to offer even "the slightest word" about where he is, despite appeals from the U.S. government, other countries, non-governmental organizations and the media.

"And the Chinese government has said nothing," Dorgan said, while pointing out that the Chinese government has signed or ratified most international human rights commitments which obligates the government to "come clean" about Gao.

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"I call on and we call on today the Chinese government to allow Mr. Gao to have access to a lawyer, access to his family and to publicly state and justify the grounds for the continued detention of this courageous person," said the North Dakota senator.

Gao was last seen on Feb. 4 when about a dozen police officers hauled him off to an unknown location. He is a prominent Christian attorney known for defending underground Christians, persecuted Falun Gong, and human rights activists.

In 2007, he was imprisoned and tortured for writing a letter to the U.S. Congress that urged the United States to oppose the Beijing Olympics because of China's rights abuses. Gao is considered dangerous by the Chinese government for making the international community aware of the country's human rights violations.

Among the many forms of torture he endured, Gao revealed in an open letter released in February that he was forced to lie naked on the floor for 13 days and nights while his entire body was tortured with electric shocks.

His wife, Geng He, who escaped to the United States with their two children in March, pleaded with the U.S. Congress to help press China to free her husband. She told the lawmakers that her husband would console her when she worried about his safety, telling her that evil cannot win over good and those who uphold justice will always have help.

"He said that if one day he would be persecuted because of his ideals and sense of justice, the people in the world who believe in justice would stand by him and support him," Geng He wrote. "I know that he would still harbor this light and hope in his heart while enduring various torments in prison.

"Honorable members of the U.S. Congress, please help me support my husband, lawyer Gao Zhisheng, so that the evil forces will know that there is resistance against persecution; so that the millions of Chinese suffering this despotic rule will know that the United States is concerned about their human rights situation, and will not give up."

More than 50,000 Americans and people around the world have signed a petition on Gao Zhisheng's behalf demanding the Chinese government to give an account of Gao's whereabouts and ask for his immediate release.

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