Source: Amnesty International NZ
Christchurch members of Amnesty International, a global human rights organisation, took to the streets outside the Christchurch Chinese Consulate to protest the ongoing disappearance of prominent human rights lawyer, Gao Zhisheng.
Gao, a Prisoner of Conscience (PoC), has been ‘adopted’ by the Christchurch Amnesty chapter who meet monthly to write letters and campaign for his release. Last Thursday’s action saw group members hold vigil outside the Chinese Consulate and wave signs at passing traffic to ‘Honk for Human Rights’.
“The message was really well received by the general public” said Amnesty Advocate, Anna Stevens. “We got a lot of toots from motorists and yells of encouragement”. Reception from the Consulate was somewhat cooler with a security guard asking them to end their two hour protest early. This request was politely declined by the group.
“We hope that by continuing to raise Gao’s disappearance with Chinese Officials, and our New Zealand counterparts, we can ensure Gao’s release so that he can be reunited with his family and be free from harassment to do his job, defending human rights in China”
Anna Stevens, Amnesty Advocate
Gao Zhisheng has been missing from his home in Yulin City, Shaanxi, northwest China, since 13 August 2017. His exact location and current condition remain unclear. Formerly one of the most respected human rights lawyers in China, with the Ministry of Justice naming him “one of the nation’s top 10 lawyers” in 2001 for his pro bono work on public interest cases, Gao fell from favour with Chinese authorities as a direct result of open letters to the government calling on them to stop religious persecution. From 2006 Gao has been the subject of arrests, imprisonment, torture and harassment .
To find out more iregarding the case of Gao Zhisheng or to help support the campaign for his release should visit the Amnesty New Zealand website www.amnesty.org.nz, or email email@example.com