The brother of missing Chinese rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng was summoned and briefly held by police at the weekend in an apparent move to silence criticism of authorities’ handling of the lawyer’s disappearance, sources said.
Gao Zhiyi, Gao Zhisheng’s older brother, was brought in by police on Aug. 26 and held for “a few hours” before being released, according to a tweet on social media by Gao Zhisheng’s daughter Geng Ge, who lives in the U.S. with her mother Geng He.
Reached by a reporter by phone, Gao Zhiyi declined to speak, saying only “Why do you need to ask me anything?” before hanging up the phone.
Ai Wu, a member of the Gao Zhisheng Concerned Group, based in Europe, said that Gao Zhiyi had likely been detained in order to “zip up his mouth on the question of Gao Zhisheng’s whereabouts.”
“Police may also may want to prevent Gao Zhiyi from meeting with other activists who came to their place to help look for Gao Zhisheng,” she said.
Gao Zhisheng, 53, who was being held under house arrest in the northern province of Shaanxi after suffering long periods of incarceration and torture at the hands of police, has not been seen or heard from since Aug. 13, his wife Geng He told RFA in an earlier report.
Speaking to RFA, Beijing-based dissident and rights activist Hu Jia said it is likely Gao Zhisheng is still in the hands of the police.
“It could be an illusion that authorities are saying that they are searching for him too. They may have detained Gao again, but are telling other people they don’t know where he is.”
Gao Zhisheng, once a prominent lawyer feted by the ruling Chinese Communist Party, began to be targeted by the authorities after he defended some of China’s most vulnerable people, including Christians, coal miners, and followers of the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement.
In a published memoir, Gao details the torture he later endured at the hands of the authorities during his time in prison, as well as three years of solitary confinement, during which he said he was sustained by his Christian faith and his hopes for China.
Reported by Qiao Long for RFA’s Mandarin Service. Translated by Feng Xiaoming. Written in English by Richard Finney.