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CHINA: GAO ZHISHENG MISSING FOR TWO YEARS
by Elizabeth Kendal
On 13 August 2017 Gao Zhisheng, Christian human rights lawyer and religious liberty advocate, was reported missing [see RLPB 421 (30 Aug 2017)]. It was not the first time Gao had disappeared. Indeed, as Benedict Rogers noted on the first anniversary of Gao's disappearance, 'Gao's personal history reads like a glossary of human rights violations: torture, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance.' On this the second anniversary, we lift him up before our good and loving God, with faith anchored in the promise: 'And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age' (Jesus, in Matthew 28:20).
|Gao Zhisheng, a 'top ten lawyer'.|
|Gao (2017) after a |
decade of intense
On 13 August 2017 a distressed and desperate Gao escaped house arrest. It took the authorities three weeks to track him down. On 5 September 2017 his family finally learned that Gao had been apprehended and taken to Beijing. On 11 November 2017 a 'security maintenance' officer told Radio Free Asia (RFA) that Gao was being held by state security police in Jia County and that he was 'fine'. The very next day RFA reported that the Gao Zhisheng Lawyers' Concern Group had located Gao in a secret prison in Shaanxi Province. According to this group, Gao was being held in solitary confinement, in total darkness and denied access to medical care [see RLPB 432 (15 Nov 2017)].
A secret prison -- officially known as 'Residential Surveillance in a Designated Location' (RSDL) -- is 'a place where the law does not exist -- a black hole'. An exiled Chinese lawyer has described it as 'a system for prolonged, pre-trial detention outside a formal, legal location'. In RSDL, officials have freedom to apply 'more severe, more terrible coercive measures than normal criminal detention ... [consequently] torture has become rampant under RSDL' [Amnesty International Urgent Action appeal for Gao Zhisheng: 16 April 2019]. It is not difficult to understand why the people of Hong Kong are so desperate to resist Beijing's expanding reach [see last's week's RLPB 514 (7 Aug)].
|Gao’s daughter, Grace Geng in |
Hong Kong with her father’s book,
(Photo: Kin Cheung, Associated Press)
PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT GOD WILL
* minister to and intervene for Gao Zhisheng (55); may Gao know with full assurance that his Heavenly Father's 'everlasting arms' are underneath him (Deut 33:27), his Good Shepherd Saviour walks with him (Psalm 23) and the Spirit who indwells him will sustain him (John 14:15-17).
* minister to and intervene for all China's persecuted and incarcerated Christian pastors, evangelists and church members, as well as other peaceful religious people; may he also minister to and intervene for all the persecuted and incarcerated human rights advocates and activists who risk life and liberty in pursuit of justice, truth, righteousness and religious freedom.
* continue to build, equip and sustain his Church in China in preparation for the day when he, the Almighty God, will intervene and the Chinese Communist Party will be 'cast out' and 'cut down' (Ezekiel 31) and 'called to account' (Psalm 10) and China's Church will be free.
Until that day, please pray for the Church in China: may the Sovereign Lord be her strength; may he make her feet like the feet of a deer and enable her to go on the heights. AMEN. (Adapted from Habakkuk 3:19).
SUMMARY FOR BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE
CHINA: GAO ZHISHENG MISSING FOR TWO YEARS
Gao Zhisheng (55), renowned Christian human rights lawyer, went missing on 13 August 2017. Desperate for dental care, he escaped house arrest. After three weeks, Gao was apprehended and 'disappeared' into 'Residential Surveillance in a Designated Location' -- a place of pre-trial detention where rule of law is non-existent and torture is rampant. Once a highly regarded lawyer, everything changed in 2004 when Gao started defending persecuted Falun Gong practitioners and house church Christians. Refusing to be silent, Gao has suffered numerous abductions, torture and extended times of solitary confinement. However, when the Communist Party thought they had crushed him, he wrote a memoir -- Unwavering Convictions -- which was smuggled out and published. His condition and whereabouts are hidden from us, but not from the Lord. Please pray.
She has authored two books: Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah Speaks to Christians Today (Deror Books, Melbourne, Australia, Dec 2012) which offers a Biblical response to persecution and existential threat; and After Saturday Comes Sunday: Understanding the Christian Crisis in the Middle East (Wipf and Stock, Eugene, OR, USA, June 2016).