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 Whistleblowers Need Protection


Letter to the Norwegian Nobel Institute, Oslo, Norway

October 08, 2008

Honorable Norwegian Nobel Committee:

We have heard speculations that Mr. Gao Zhisheng and Hu Jia have a good chance in wining the Nobel Peace Prize. The speculation about their winning highlights the unjustness of their plight. Winning would be wonderful, but release and respect for their rights, regardless who wins, is essential. Both Gao and Hu are Chinese heroes who have sacrifices and great efforts towards improving human rights in China. Both are currently imprisoned, and Gao's whereabouts are unknown.

Both men have been steadfast in their conviction to help others and stand up against China's tyrannical regime, despite great risk to their own safety. Their families have also not been spared, having suffered for these men standing on the side of right.

Gao is described by many as "China's conscience" and the leader of the country's nascent rights defense movement. He has repeatedly demonstrated his commitment to human rights, justice, and democratic governance. Gao has defended the rights of house-church members, coal miners, petitioners, home-demolition victims, and Falun Gong adherents.

Because of his efforts to speak out for China's most oppressed group—Falun Gong practitioners—Gao has experienced unrelenting persecution for the past three years. His license to practice law was revoked, he has been detained and tortured, agents of the Chinese regime have reportedly made two attempts on his life, and both his wife and 14-year-old daughter have been physically assaulted. His entire family has been missing for more than one year since Gao wrote a letter in September 2007 to the U.S. Congress expressing his deep concerns over the deteriorating human rights situation in China ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Gao was well aware of the danger before sending the letter. In his letter, he wrote: "But still, I choose to express myself in a way that has almost led to the annihilation of my whole family. I choose to present to the international community what's happening in China, the vivid scenes going in parallel with the preparation for the Olympic Games that are totally against the Olympic spirit, though at this moment people are busy congratulating themselves on what they have gained in the coming Olympic Games. I choose to do so despite the danger I may bring to myself."

The first news of Gao's whereabouts and condition since his abduction in September has been discovered recently. It is now known that Gao and his family were moved out of Beijing because of the Olympics and that the Chinese Communist Party was very worried about this news coming out because Gao has been persecuted very badly in recent months.

Gao was tortured for two months—so severely that he tried to take his own life twice in that time. The torture methods were similar to what Chinese police do to Falun Gong practitioners, similar to what Gao described in his third open letter to the Chinese regime, which described horrific and inhumanly brutal torture. During the CCP's torture of Gao, they asked him to write letters denouncing Falun Gong; denouncing the founder of Falun Gong, Li Hongzhi; and praising the CCP. He refused all of them. Because Beijing is so concerned about Gao's situation coming to light, they have kept him completely isolated.

We also support your consideration for nomination, Mr. Hu Jia, who is a well-known activist in China and an internationally recognized Chinese rights defender. Hu was involved in the democratic movement, as well as environmental and HIV/AIDS issues. Hu and his wife Zeng Jinyan received a 2007 special press freedom award from Reporters Without Borders, and were also nominated for the Sakharov Human Rights Award of the European Parliament. Hu Jia is also a close friend and ardent supporter of Gao Zhisheng, and worked tirelessly on the rescue of Gao Zhisheng. When most people kept their silence in China, Hu continued to speak out for Gao and his family despite the danger. Hu was the one who broke the news about the torture of Gao suffered in prison. With his wife, Hu took great risk to bring Gao's wife money when she barely had enough food for her children and could not even afford her son's pre-school tuition.

Hu was arrested in December 2007, three months after Gao was kidnapped again from home, and in April of this year Hu was sentenced to three and a half years in prison for talking to foreign media and publishing articles on the Internet. Hu's wife is now under house arrest with the youngest prisoner in the world—their one-year old daughter whom has been under house arrest since she was three months old.

Both Gao and Hu were taken away in the lead-up to the Olympics, being silenced when the world's eyes were on China. That Hu still has years left in his sentence, and that Gao's situation is unknown suggests the Olympics served as an excuse to put these men and other rights defenders out of the picture, even long after the games.

We ask that you recognize the suffering these men have borne, and the righteousness of their peaceful efforts, against one of the most tyrannical governments known in the history of man. These men have not only been rights defenders, but also leaders, working towards a better life for all people in China.

Friends of Gao Zhisheng:

Terri Marsh, Executive Director, Human Rights Law Foundation Washington D. C.,
Michael Callahan, Chairman, International Issues Committee, American
Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA), Florida,
Dr. James Wilson, Neuropsychologist and clinic director, California,
David Kilgour, Former Member of Parliament, Canada,
David Matas, Senior legal counsel of B'nai Brith Canada, Canada,
Ed Chapin, Member of ABOTA Board, California,
Dicky Grigg, Member of ABOTA Board, Texas,
Edward McMillan-Scott MEP, Vice-President of the European Parliament,
Willy Fautré, Director, Human Rights Without Frontiers International, Belgium,
Sarah Cook, Co-editor of Gao Zhisheng's book A China More Just, New York,
Dr. Sherry Zhang, Member of the Board, Sound of Hope Radio, California,
Theresa Y. Chu, Asia Director, Human Rights Law Foundation, Taiwan,
Kirk Allison, PhD, MS, Program Director, Program in Human Rights and
Health, University of Minnesota School of Public Health,
Michael Craig, Chair, China Rights Network, Toronto, ON,
Xue Sheng: Vice President of Federation for a Democratic China, Canada,
Rev. Michael Stainton, Toronto, York Centre for Asian Research, York University,
Alejandro Centurion, MD, Neurologist, CA,
Rod Germaine, Just Aid Foundation, Vancouver,
Ahmed Hussen, National President, Canadian Somali Congress,
Jennifer Zeng, Book author, Australia,
Janice Trey, Executive, Fortune 500 company. Washington DC,
Dermod Travis, Executive Director, Canada Tibet Committee,
Lord Corbett of Castle Vale, Chairman, Parliamentary Labour Peers Group

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