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 Whistleblowers Need Protection



Recent open letter to Members of Congress and U.S. President about Gao

Friends of Gao Zhisheng
November 30, 2007

Dear President Bush and Honorable Members of Congress,

For millions who seek free expression and rule of law in China, it is of great concern that Chinese attorney Gao Zhisheng, a key leader of China’s human rights movement and a symbol, was abducted by Chinese secret police on September 22 and his whereabouts remain unknown.

We, the undersigned lawyers, doctors, scholars and advocates, write to urge you to use your good offices to seek his release by the Chinese authorities.

We are concerned that Gao, a Nobel Peace Prize nominee whose courage and commitment to nonviolence are comparable to those of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., is at risk of being tortured.

Amnesty International and other human rights groups believe that Gao’s abduction is linked to a letter he wrote to the U.S. Congress days before being taken from his home. In it, he called attention to the deteriorating human rights situation in China as that country prepares for the 2008 Olympics.

Gao outlined in the letter an eight-year-long suppression of the Falun Gong as “by far the most long-lasting and serious human rights disaster in China and in the world,” highlighted the ongoing persecution of Christians like himself, and detailed the brutal torture suffered by human rights defenders.

That Gao issued this appeal without care for his own safety is testament to his courage and genuine concern for human rights. That he was abducted for doing so raises serious doubts about the integrity of Chinese leaders’ promises to the international community to respect basic human rights.

Gao's abduction and incommunicado detention constitute a violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which China has signed and committed to ratify, particularly Article 9 that prohibits arbitrary detention. It also violates the commitments the Chinese leadership made to the International Olympic Committee when it was awarded the 2008 Games.

Gao risked his freedom and has apparently risked his life out of the belief that the U.S. government would promote uphold justice for thousands of persecuted Chinese. We urge you to show that his trust was not misplaced, by urging the Chinese leadership to release Gao and begin to address the violations he has outlined.

Your intervention would not only benefit Gao and his family, but our own nation as well, for he and others like him represent the future of China.


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