EU: China must clarify fate of human rights lawyer

EU's Catherine Ashton urges Beijing "to clarify without delay the situation of Gao Zhisheng and to open a fully independent and transparent investigation into his disappearance."

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
February 9, 2010 20:29
1 minute read.
China Human Rights

China Human Rights. (photo credit: AP)

The European Union's foreign policy chief called Tuesday on China to investigate what happened to a daring human rights lawyer who disappeared a year ago.

China has shrugged off questions from foreign officials and rights groups over the fate of Gao Zhisheng, who went missing from his home town in Shaanxi province on Feb. 4, 2009.

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The EU's Catherine Ashton said she urged China "to clarify without delay the situation of Gao Zhisheng and to open a fully independent and transparent investigation into his disappearance."

She said the European Union has repeatedly called on the Chinese government to reveal Gao's whereabouts, allow him access to a lawyer and let him contact his family. Officials from the United States, the United Nations and rights groups have made similar appeals.

Chinese officials have been teasingly vague about Gao's fate, with a policeman telling Gao Zhiyi his brother "went missing" and a Foreign Ministry official last month saying the self-taught lawyer "is where he should be." As is typical in China, state-run media have not mentioned the case.

Gao championed extremely sensitive cases involving underground Christians and the banned Falun Gong spiritual group, and faced intense police harassment.

Gao's wife, Geng He, wrote in an op-ed article in The Washington Post last week that United States should speak up more for dissidents in China.

"It's true that Beijing is silencing more political dissidents than ever. But this is a call to action, not a reason to stand idly by," she said.


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