Persecution watchdog groups are pressing for the release of a well-known human rights lawyer in China who has been imprisoned in Beijing.
Approximately one month ago, Gao Zhisheng (pictured at left) went missing from his home where he was under house arrest. Beijing authorities have now confirmed that Zhisheng, a Christian believer, was whisked away to a secret location.
Gina Goh of International Christian Concern says the attorney was kidnapped – and this is not the first time he's been kidnapped and jailed for angering the Communist government, she says.
"This is how they treat him," she says of the authoritarian government. "And so we are really saddened by the fact that the Chinese government continues to tighten control on human rights and just shows disrespect for all the human rights defenders."
It's presumed the attorney, who has defended others against government abuse, is himself being tortured. There are other human rights attorneys who are also behind bars for the same reason, she says, and it appears to human rights groups that China is "going backwards" instead of moving toward a free country.
In a detailed story about Zhisheng, ICC further explains that the attorney became an enemy of the state after defending coal miners, fellow Christians and Falun Gong members, earning him the title "Conscience of China" after years of imprisonments, beatings and torture.
Citing a website of his supporters, ICC reports that Chinese authorities have detained five of Zhisheng's friends and family of which two have yet to return after questioning.
"Pray for them and pray for their family," Goh tells other believers. "It's just hard to imagine how much they've been through."