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Gao Zhisheng: One year later, China still mum on missing lawyer

Gao Zhisheng, once praised by the Chinese government as a star lawyer, remains missing one year after police dragged him from his home. Rights groups are particularly worried about the treatment of the human rights lawyer.

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Solicitor John Clancey holds a placard with a picture of lawyer Gao Zhisheng during a demonstration outside the China Liaison office in Hong Kong on Thursday, a year after the human rights lawyer disappeared.

Kin Cheung/AP

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A year ago today, Chinese human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng was dragged from his home by security agents, a hood over his head. Then he vanished. He has neither been seen nor heard from since.

Mr. Gao’s prolonged disappearance has alarmed relatives and human rights activists, who say it is highly unusual in China and fear for his safety.

“I cannot think of a case where a disappearance has occurred for this length of time,” says Joshua Rosenzweig, a researcher in Hong Kong for the Dui Hua human rights group. “There is considerable concern that some harm has come to him.”

The Chinese authorities have done nothing to assuage such concern. Repeated efforts by foreign diplomats, human rights activists, and United Nations bodies to learn Gao’s fate have been rebuffed.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu, asked two weeks ago about the lawyer’s whereabouts, said only that, “he is where he should be.”

“He should be at home,” retorts Mr. Rosenzweig, recalling that Gao was under police surveillance when he disappeared, under the terms of a suspended sentence he had been given in 2006.

Relentless advocate for human rights

Gao is one of the most persistent and courageous thorns in the side of the Chinese government. A Christian himself, he has specialized in defending people persecuted for their religious beliefs, including members of the outlawed Falun Gong spiritual movement.

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