On April 7, 2010, the Associated Press reported an in-person conversation with activist lawyer Gao Zhisheng (高智晟). Gao’s reappearance is a welcome reassurance to his family and supporters that he is safe. The recent reported statements about his desire to reunite with his family are powerful testaments to the universality of the most basic of human bonds: the family. However, Gao’s declining to talk about his disappearance and treatment by the authorities as cited in press reports raises unresolved questions about any “choice” he has made. If Gao is allowed to reunite with his family, will he be allowed to leave China or would his family be allowed to return to China freely if they choose? If they return, will Gao be able to exercise his fundamental rights and freedoms protected under international and Chinese law?
The Chinese government needs to demonstrate to Gao, his family, Chinese citizens, and the international community that there is room in China for citizens who are simply exercising these protected fundamental rights and freedoms.
For more information on Gao Zhisheng, see:
Gao Zhisheng’s account of his September 2007 kidnapping and torture: