Brother: Gao Zhisheng in Xinjiang Prison

The brother of Gao Zhisheng, the outspoken dissident rights lawyer who disappeared 20 months ago, says that his brother is being held in a prison in China’s remote Xinjiang province. From The New York Times:

The brother, Gao Zhiyi, told two news agencies that he had been informed that Gao Zhisheng was in a prison in Shaya County. The brother said he had received an official notice on Sunday telling him that Mr. Gao was now back in prison because a court had revoked his probation, and that he would have to serve three more years.

Mr. Gao, a Beijing lawyer known for taking politically delicate cases, was sentenced to three years of probation in 2006 for inciting subversion of the state. The official Xinhua news agency reported last month that his probation had been revoked.

But human rights advocates say Mr. Gao was never on probation because he had been missing for 20 months, presumably in police custody. Over the years, Mr. Gao has disappeared for lengthy periods and re-emerged to say he had been tortured by security forces.

Gao Zhisheng’s disappearance in April 2010, which the United Nations claims violated international law, marked the third time he had gone missing since the Chinese government shut down his law practice in 2005. The United Nations also expressed concern when the government revoked Gao’s probation last month.

Human rights observers have heavily condemned recently proposed changes to China’s criminal procedure law which would allow the government to secretly detain and torture critics such as Gao, Ai Weiwei, Liu Xiaobo and others. Zhou Xiaohui of The Epoch Times says that Gao’s continued detention offers an opportunity for the United States to walk the walk with regards to its intention to return to Asia and speak up about human rights abuses by China:

By supporting with concrete actions those whom the Chinese regime suppresses, America will strengthen itself by remaining true to itself.

At the same time, such a policy would provide real protection for U.S. national interests. It would give nations in East Asia a clear choice between the Chinese regime and the United States, between tyranny and freedom.

By helping China’s dissidents, the United States will help those who seek for China a future that is harmonious with the universal principles America is based on. America will be supporting those who are its true friends and in doing so win the friendship of the Chinese people.

As the new year approaches, the United States has an opportunity for a renewal of its approach to China. The individual who has most boldly criticized the Chinese regime’s violations of basic human rights is Gao Zhisheng. Let an American foreign policy based on the principles and true interests of the United States begin by rescuing Gao.