freedom-now.normal

Cases in ChinaPeople's Republic of China

 

2010 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo, 60, is a Chinese scholar and renowned dissident who was sentenced to 11 years in prison for “inciting subversion of state power” on December 25, 2009, for his role in drafting Charter 08. An English-version of Charter 08 can be read here. Dr. Liu is widely considered China’s most prominent dissident. He was selected to receive the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize for his “long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China.”

The Chinese government previously detained Dr. Liu for his peaceful democracy advocacy on three occasions, including his participation in the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests. Dr. Liu was one of four intellectuals who negotiated with the army for the safe passage of students out of the Square.

In 2008, Dr. Liu was one of the primary drafters of Charter 08, a political manifesto modeled on the Czechoslovakian Charter ’77. Charter 08 calls for increased rule of law, greater respect for human rights, and the end to one-party rule in China. Although mention of the online petition is not allowed within China’s great Internet firewall, to date, Charter 08 has been signed by almost 10,000 Chinese citizens and is considered influential in beginning to unite the Chinese dissident movement.

The Chinese government detained Dr. Liu on December 8, 2008—two days before the official release of Charter 08 on the 60th Anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The government held Dr. Liu in solitary confinement and denied him access to his lawyers.

Dr. Liu was not formally arrested until June 23, 2009, when the State News Agency, Xinhua, quoted police as saying in a statement that ”Liu has been engaged in agitation activities, such as spreading of rumors and defaming of the government, aimed at subversion of the state and overthrowing the socialism system in recent years.”

On December 23, 2009, Dr. Liu was tried for “inciting subversion to state power” under Article 105 of the Chinese Criminal Procedure Code. His trial violated international standards for due process of law. His wife, Liu Xia, and foreign diplomats and journalists were not allowed to attend the trial. On December 25, 2009, he was sentenced to 11 years in prison and two years deprivation of political rights. In the verdict, his signing of Charter 08 was named as part of the evidence against him.

After the Nobel Committee announced that Dr. Liu was the recipient of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize, Dr. Liu’s wife, Liu Xia, was placed under de facto house arrest. Liu Xia was escorted to Jinzhou prison to inform Dr. Liu that he won the Nobel Peace Prize and subsequently escorted back to her Beijing apartment, where she remains detained today. Her communication with the outside world is restricted.

Heads of state, prominent intellectuals, and Nobel Peace Prize Laureates have called for Dr. Liu’s release. Dr. Liu was nominated for the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize by Freedom Now Honorary Co-chairs Archbishop Desmond Tutu and The Honorable Václav Havel, as well as the Dalai Lama, André Glucksmann, Vartan Gregorian, Mike Moore, Karel Schwarzenberg, and Grigory Yavlinsky.

Gao Zhisheng, 51, is one of China’s most prominent human rights lawyers as well as a husband and the father of two children. Mr. Gao was disappeared by the Chinese government on April 20, 2010 and was held incommunicado for more than 20 months. On December 16, 2011, the Chinese government announced that Mr. Gao had been sentenced to three years in prison for violating his parole and was imprisoned at Shaya County Prison in Xinjian on December 29, 2011.

Mr. Gao is a self-taught litigator whom the Chinese Ministry of Justice once praised as one of the country’s ten best lawyers. In 2005, after being denied access to the courts for taking on politically sensitive cases, Mr. Gao wrote open letters to both the National People’s Congress and the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, calling for an end to the torture of members of persecuted religious groups. Mr. Gao’s license to practice law was subsequently revoked, his law firm shut down, and his family placed under police surveillance.

On July 30, 2006, Mr. Gao was beaten by the police officers monitoring his home. Two weeks later, he was apprehended at his sister’s home, but authorities did not notify Mr. Gao’s family of his arrest until September 21, when he was charged with “inciting subversion.” After giving a forced confession in the face of threats against his children, Mr. Gao was convicted in December 2006 and given a suspended three-year sentence with five years’ probation, effectively placing him under house arrest.

In September 2007, Mr. Gao wrote an open letter to the U.S. Congress, detailing human rights violations in China. He was promptly apprehended and tortured, during which time authorities beat Mr. Gao with batons, held burning cigarettes to his face, and used toothpicks and electric shocks to pierce his genitals.
In January 2009, after years of government threats and constant, humiliating surveillance, Mr. Gao’s wife and two children secretly fled to the United States and sought asylum.

Mr. Gao disappeared on February 4, 2009, when he was again apprehended by security personnel without any notice to his family. After months of refusing to comment on Mr. Gao’s case, his brother traveled to Beijing in December 2009 to ask authorities about Mr. Gao’s whereabouts, only to be told he had “gone missing.” On January 21, 2010, the Chinese Foreign Ministry acknowledged for the first time the detention of Mr. Gao, stating “this person, according to Chinese law, is where he should be.”

Gao mysteriously reappeared on March 28, 2010, after a year of intense international pressure. He was briefly allowed to return to Beijing. In April 2010, Mr. Gao was instructed by government agents to visit his father-in-law in far Western China. On April 20, 2010, security agents told Mr. Gao to return to Beijing. However, Mr. Gao never arrived in Beijing.

For more than 20 months, Mr. Gao was held incommunicado. On December 16, 2011, the Beijing People’s First Intermediate Court ordered that Mr. Gao be imprisoned for three years to serve the full sentence imposed on December 22, 2006. State media reported that the Court withdrew Mr. Gao’s probation—set to expire the following week—claiming without explanation that Mr. Gao had “seriously violated probation rules a number of times.”

Mr. Gao was imprisoned at the Shaya County Prison in a remote area of the Xinjian until August 7, 2014 when he was released. During his time at the Shaya County Prison, Mr. Gao was held in solitary confinement in a very small cell with minimal light. Guards were strictly instructed not to speak with him. He was not allowed any reading materials, television, or access to anyone or anything. He was fed a single slice of bread and piece of cabbage, once a day. He has lost a significant amount of weight and many teeth from malnutrition. It is believed he was repeatedly physically tortured. Mr. Gao can barely talk and it is believed he is now suffering from a broad range of physical and mental health problems. He has not been allowed to see a doctor since his release.

Mr. Gao was released to the house of his in-laws in Urumqi where he is continuing to serve his supplemental sentence of one year of “deprivation of political rights.” This additional sentence is set to expire in August 2015 when he is expected to be fully released.

Selected documents from Cases in China's case
12 Nobel Peace Laureates Urge President Obama to Call for Release of Liu Xiaobo and Liu XiaSeptember 23, 2015

Freedom Now statement on letter from 12 Nobel Peace Laureates to President Obama

12 Nobel Peace Laureates Urge UK Prime Minister to Call for Release of Liu Xiaobo and Liu XiaOctober 20, 2015

Freedom Now statement on letter from 12 Nobel Peace Laureates

A Dissident's WifeMarch 28, 2011

New York Times op-ed by Geng He (wife of Gao Zhisheng)

A World Away from China, Geng He Seeks Justice for Her Dissident HusbandFebruary 17, 2012

Washington Post Style Section article chronicling the advocacy efforts of Freedom Now and Gao Zhisheng's wife, Geng He.

Again, Where is Gao Zhisheng?October 27, 2010

Wall Street Journal (Asia) editorial highlighting the detention and disappearance of Gao Zhisheng.

Canada Can Help an Imprisoned Chinese HeroMarch 11, 2010

The Mark op-ed by David Kilgour.

China Must Release Liu Xiaobo - Or Lose Its CredibilityDecember 5, 2010

Observer op-ed by Václav Havel and Desmond Tutu.

China: UN Experts Denounce Secret Detention of Human Rights Lawyer Gao ZhishengDecember 23, 2012

Press Release from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights announcing a statement by UN experts condemning the continued detention of Gao Zhisheng.

China's Missing Human Rights LawyerMarch 19, 2010

International Herald Tribune op-ed by Jerome A. Cohen and Beth Schwanke.

China's Rule of Law: Go After the LawyersApril 9, 2013

Washington Post op-ed by Geng He and Chen Guangcheng.

Criminalizing DissentNovember 1, 2010

Ottawa Citizen op-ed by Irwin Cotler

Demanding Justice for Gao ZhishengFebruary 27, 2014

Wall Street Journal op-ed by Jared Genser.

Desmond Tutu's Plea: Stand Up for Liu XiaoboJune 3, 2013

Los Angeles Times op-ed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Jared Genser.

Do We Have to Wait 30 Years for Human Rights in China?January 21, 2011

Washington Post editorial by Fred Hiatt.

Empty Chairs in Oslo Speak VolumesNovember 11, 2010

Wall Street Journal (Asia) op-ed by Jerome A. Cohen and Eva Pils.

Free Liu XiaoboOctober 8, 2012

Huffington Post op-ed by Jared Genser.

Grace Geng Speaks to the BBCOctober 28, 2011

BBC interview with Grace Geng (daughter of Gao Zhisheng).

Harmful EffectsJanuary 26, 2012

South China Morning Post op-ed by Jerome A. Cohen and Jared Genser.

If China Frees Nobel Winner, It Will Show Its StrengthOctober 22, 2010

Washington Post op-ed by Václav Havel and Desmond M. Tutu.

In China, Repression is a Family AffairApril 26, 2013

Wall Street Journal (Asia) op-ed by Jared Genser.

Letter from 11 Members of the Canadian ParliamentNovember 4, 2010

Urging Prime Minister Harper to raise the cases of Gao Zhisheng and Liu Xoaobo during the G-20 Summit.

Letter from 134 Nobel LaureatesDecember 4, 2012

Calling for the release of 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo and his wife Liu Xia.

Letter from 14 Members of the UK House of LordsNovember 5, 2010

Urging Prime Minister Cameron to raise the cases of Gao Zhisheng and Liu Xiaobo during the G-20 Summit.

Letter from 15 Nobel Peace Prize LaureatesOctober 25, 2010

Calling on world leaders to press for the release Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xia during the G-20 Summit.

Letter from 30 Members of the U.S. CongressJanuary 14, 2011

Calling on President Obama to highlight individual prisoner cases, including Liu Xiaobo and Gao Zhisheng, during bilateral meetings.

Letter from 30 Members of the U.S. CongressOctober 6, 2010

Calling on President Obama to raise the cases of Liu Xiaobo and Gao Zhisheng during the G-20 Summit.

Letter from Member of U.S. CongressJanuary 14, 2011

Calling on President Obama to highlight individual prisoner cases, including Liu Xiaobo and Gao Zhisheng, during bilateral meetings.

Liu Case Lost in Keen Bid for TradeJuly 26, 2013

The Australian op-ed by Jared Genser.

Liu Xiaobo Deserved the Nobel PrizeJanuary 4, 2011

Ottawa Citizen op-ed by David Kilgour.

Mr. Obama, Speak Up for Human Rights in ChinaJanuary 19, 2011

Washington Post op-ed by former Freedom Now client Dr. Yang Jianli.

Mr. Obama, Speak Up for Human Rights in ChinaJanuary 19, 2011

Washington Post op-ed by former Freedom Now client Dr. Yang Jianli.

NGO LetterJune 6, 2013

Calling on President Obama to raise the "China 16" during bilateral meetings.

Nobel Prize and Human RightsOctober 13, 2011

Korea Times op-ed by Jared Genser.

Opinion of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary DetentionNovember 19, 2010

Finding the imprisonment of Gao Zhisheng to be arbitrary under international law.

Opinion of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary DetentionAugust 1, 2011

Finding the detention of Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xia to be arbitrary under international law.

Petition to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary DetentionJanuary 11, 2011

Submitted on behalf of Gao Zhisheng.

Petition to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary DetentionMarch 9, 2010

Submitted on behalf of Gao Zhisheng.

Petition to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary DetentionNovember 4, 2010

Submitted on behalf of Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xia.

Petition to the UN Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary DisappearancesFebruary 4, 2010

Submitted on behalf of Gao Zhisheng.

Petition to the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary DisappearancesFebruary 27, 2014

Submitted on behalf of Gao Zhisheng.

Please Return My FatherOctober 27, 2010

Wall Street Journal (Asia) op-ed by Grace Geng (daughter of Gao Zhisheng).

President Obama Makes Hu Jintao Look Good on RightsJanuary 20, 2011

Washington Post editorial.

Press ReleaseAugust 5, 2010

Announcing that Gao Zhisheng received the American Bar Association's 2010 International Human Rights Lawyer Award.

Press ReleaseFebruary 4, 2010

China Holds Human Rights Lawyer Gao Zhisheng Incommunicado for One Year: New Legal Team Files Petition to United Nations.

Press ReleaseMarch 8, 2010

Prominent Dissident Lawyer's Wife Confirms that Gao is Alive; Urges Chine to Allow Him to Come to the U.S.

Press ReleaseDecember 10, 2010

Deploring the decision by the Chinese government to prevent Liu Xiaobo and his wife Liu Xia from attending the 2010 Nobel Prize ceremony.

Press ReleaseOctober 10, 2010

Announcing that Liu Xiaobo's wife Liu Xia has been detained under house arrest.

Press ReleaseOctober 8, 2010

Freedom Now Client Liu Xiaobo selected as 2010 recipient of Nobel Peace Prize: statement from Liu Xiaobo's wife Liu Xia.

Press ReleaseDecember 8, 2011

Announcing the launch of the Committee of Support to Liu Xiaobo.

Press ReleaseFebruary 27, 2013

New Global Effort to Free Liu Xiaobo: 450,000 citizens in 130 countries join 134 Nobel Laureates in calling for release of Liu Xiaobo.

Q&A: Daughter Longs to Reunite with Chinese Dissident DadNovember 25, 2010

Voice of America interview with Grace Geng (daughter of Gao Zhisheng).

Resolution of the Canadian Parliament's Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on International Human RightsDecember 14, 2010

Passed in the Subcommittee unanimously and congratulating Liu Xiaobo on the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize.

Ritual AbuseFebruary 18, 2010

South China Morning Post op-ed by Beth Schwanke.

Submission to the Committee against TortureOctober 22, 2015

Submission to the Committee against Torture regarding the treatment of Liu Xia

Submission to the UN High Commissioner for Human RightsMarch 4, 2013

Report submitted by Freedom Now on the use of arbitrary detention by the Government of the People's Republic of China as part of the Universal Periodic Review process of the UN Human Rights Council.

Testimony of Geng He (Wife of Gao Zhisheng)February 14, 2012

Before the Congressional Executive Commission on China ("Hearing on Prominent, Imprisoned Human Rights Lawyer Gao Zhisheng").

Testimony of Jared GenserApril 9, 2013

Before the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Investigations ("Chen Guangcheng and Gao Zhisheng: Human Rights in China").

Testimony of Jared GenserFebruary 14, 2012

Before the Congressional Executive Commission on China ("Hearing on Prominent, Imprisoned Human Rights Lawyer Gao Zhisheng").

Testimony of Jared GenserJuly 25, 2012

Before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs ("Investigating the Chinese Threat: Human Rights Abuses, Torture and Disappearances").

Testimony of Patrick GriffithDecember 12, 2012

Before the Congressional Executive Commission on China ("Two Years Later: The Ongoing Detentions of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo and His Wife Liu Xia").

The Ordeal of China's Liu XiaMarch 30, 2014

Wall Street Journal op-ed by Desmond M. Tutu and Jared Genser.

The Silencing of Gao ZhishengMay 31, 2010

Wall Street Journal op-ed by Jerome A. Cohen and Beth Schwanke.

The U.S. Must Speak Out Against China's OffensesFebruary 4, 2010

Washington Post op-ed by Geng He (wife of Gao Zhisheng).

The West Must Not Forget Liu Xiaobo's PlightAugust 1, 2011

The Times (London) op-ed by Jared Genser.

To Combat China’s Crackdown on Dissidents A New Strategy is NeededOctober 28, 2013

Washington Post op-ed by Jared Genser.

U.S. House of Representatives Resolution 1717December 8, 2010

Congratulating imprisoned Chinese democracy advocate Liu Xiaobo on the award of the 201 Nobel Peace Prize.

U.S. Senate Resolution 554September 13, 2012

Calling on the Government of the People's Republic of China to facilitate the immediate and unconditional release of Gao Zhisheng.

UN Calls for Liu Xiaobo's ReleaseAugust 7, 2011

Voice of America editorial.