MIDLAND, TX — A panel of judges unanimously chose to grant the annual Lin Zhao Freedom Award to disappeared lawyer Gao Zhisheng.
As an attorney, Gao served people prosecuted by the Chinese Communist Party for decades. For his work, he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. China, however, targeted him, and he spent years locked away.
While behind bars, he suffered multiple counts of torture, which he described in his piece “Dark Night, Dark Hood, and Kidnapping by Dark Mafia.”
Gao was released from one of his sentences in 2014, but authorities monitored him closely in his home, even blocking him from receiving dental care. During the three years he lived in that apartment, he secretly penned Unwavering Convictions, a book which describes atrocities committed by the Chinese Communist Party. ChinaAid smuggled the book out of China and published it with the Carolina Academic Press and the American Bar Association. The book, which has been translated into English, can be purchased here.
On Aug. 23, 2017, two of Gao’s supporters sneaked him out of his house and brought him to the neighboring Shanxi province. There, they hid for 23 days, but officials eventually found them, and Gao vanished into police custody again.
He has never been found.
Because of the pressure placed on his family, Gao’s wife and children fled to the United States in 2009.
For his sacrifice, Gao has been named this year’s recipient of the Lin Zhao Freedom Award. Named after Lin Zhao, a young woman who was executed for standing up for her beliefs and later exonerated, the prize recognizes Chinese rights activists who have suffered for their resilient stances.
To be considered, nominees need to meet two basic conditions:
- Adhered to the spirit of non-violence against injustice and oppression as promoted by Lin Zhao, promoting freedom and democracy, truth and reconciliation, and doing an excellent job in promoting rule of law and civil society in contemporary China.
- Suffered unjust treatments and persecutions in the process. ChinaAid believes Gao’s work and life have embodied these factors.
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