Renewed human rights concerns in China

world | Oct 26, 2006 | By Spero News

After the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion, concluded his visit to China, grave human rights concerns have begun emerging, with the charging of a leading advocate for religious freedom and renewed fears over the death sentence of a church leader.

Gao Zhisheng, a prominent human rights lawyer who has fearlessly defended religious freedom, has been charged with 'inciting subversion of state power'. His lawyer, Mo Shaoping, received the notification of the decision to charge Gao on 12 October after weeks of silence following Gao's removal by a dozen security officers on 15 August.

 

Official notification of his arrest was only given to his wife over a month later on 21 September and he has been repeatedly denied access to his lawyer. According to his lawyer, the charge means Gao may be facing years in prison. The measures taken against Gao for his peaceful activities have been met by international censure.

Gao, dubbed '
China's hero of 2005', has been a leading champion of religious freedom, defending important cases, including the prominent case of Beijing house church leader Pastor Cai Zhuohua. He has published reports and open letters over abuses of religious and other freedoms, including the mistreatment of Christians in Xinjiang and, most notably, the violations against the Falun Gong.

 

His fearless pursuit of justice and his open letters to Chinese leaders have incurred the ire of the authorities and Gao has received a number of threats to his life and security, including being the target of several attempted 'accidents'.

Meanwhile concern is mounting for church leader Xu Shuangfu and others who were sentenced to death in June for serious crimes after a trial in which Xu and others testified of horrific torture used to extract confessions.

 

Xu, the leader of The Three Grades of Servants, described how he was hung in the air for five hours and how interrogators tied his fingers, toes and genitals with wire connected to an electrical supply. The defendants showed the judge the injuries from torture but received no response.

 

Besides the violence against Xu himself, the female leaders amongst the group of



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