Updated: Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Bob Fu, head of China Aid, an agency that advocates for religious freedom and human rights inside China, has confirmed that he believes that Gao Zhisheng is alive and not in prison.
From the China Aid website:
ChinaAid President Bob Fu confirmed the reports. "After examining Gao's voice in the interview, I too am convinced that it is Gao." ChinaAid has waged an international campaign to Free Gao for more than a year, circulating petitions and calling on the international community to raise awareness for Gao's cause. Last week, prominent human rights attorney Dr. Li Baiguang joined President Fu in meeting with high-ranking members of the British and European Parliaments in London and Brussels, calling awareness to Gao's cause.
Gao's wife Geng He and two children were overwhelmed with emotion and relief as they spoke with him on Sunday morning. Tthe children could not stop crying. Earlier today, Geng He released a statement, appealing to the Chinese Government to allow Gao Zhisheng to reunite with his family in the United States. According to reliable sources, the pressure on Geng He and the family has increased during Gao's absence. Reports indicate Geng He's parents have been severely harassed in recent months, due to their relationship to son-in-law Gao Zhisheng.
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Today [March 29, 2010], CT readers will be surprised to discover reliable reports that dissident Christian lawyer Gao Zhisheng is alive and apparently residing in northern China at the moment. But exactly how free he is remains an open question.
The Associated Press late Sunday night reports:
BEIJING — The wife of a dissident Chinese lawyer missing for more than a year confirmed Monday that he is alive and appealed to the government to allow him to go to the United States.
Gao Zhisheng resurfaced suddenly Sunday, saying he is now living in northern China, but it was not clear under what conditions. Since he went missing on Feb. 4, 2009, from his hometown in central China, the government has given vague explanations about Gao's whereabouts, heightening worries he had been jailed or tortured as he was previously. "I am tremendously relieved that my husband is alive," Gao's wife Geng He said in a statement issued by Freedom Now, a non-governmental organization that represents prisoners of conscience. "I am so happy that my children were able to speak to him. My children and I have not seen their father since January 2009. We urge the Chinese government to allow Zhisheng to leave the country and be reunited with us in the United States." Geng and her two children fled China a month before Gao was detained and now [live] in the United States.
Gao has been the focal point of an intense campaign for his release. Gao's wife and two children were granted asylum in the United States. In the New York Times article for Monday's edition, Gao in a short cell phone interview made these remarks about his family:
Reached on his cellphone, Mr. Gao sounded upbeat but guarded, suggesting that he had been instructed not to speak to the news media. He said that he was going to spend time with his extended family in Shanxi Province and that he had no plans to return to his work as a rights defender. "Right now I just need to calm down and lead a quiet life," he said.
Then he turned melancholy and made an allusion to his wife and children in the United States. "They are like kites that have had their strings cut, and now they are floating far off into the sky," he said before hanging up.
CT online will update this story later on Monday with comments from Christian groups that have been advocating for Gao's release.