US lawmakers ask Beijing to reinstate law firm of rights activist |
US lawmakers ask Beijing to reinstate law firm of rights activist
The US House of Representatives adopted a resolution urging China to lift
the suspension of a prominent Beijing-based rights activist's law firm.
Gao Zhisheng's law office was ordered closed for a year after he wrote an
open letter to Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao calling
for an end to the persecution of the Falungong spiritual sect.
Gao also has defended ordinary people in lawsuits against the government and
helped educate rural farmers of their legal rights.
The House resolution, approved 421-0, urged Beijing "to reinstate all
licenses" of Gao and his law firm and "remove all legal and political
obstacles for lawyers attempting to defend criminal cases in China,
including politically sensitive cases."
It also sought a revision of "law and practice in China so that it conforms
to international standards."
Gao's plight has become one of the high profile examples of extreme action
by China's communist rulers to suppress anti-government dissent.
"As a former soldier in the Peoples Liberation Army and a member of the
Chinese Communist Party, Gao was set to join China's political and social
elite. But instead of power and prestige, Gao opted to become a human rights
lawyer in a nation where respect for human rights and political freedoms are
not part of the governments lexicon," said Tom Lantos, a Democratic
Lantos, who heads the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, said police had
made threats to Gao, including telling him "we even know which bus your
children usually take to go to school."
"These scare tactics are unfortunately standard practice against Chinese
lawyers who fight for real justice in the Chinese legal system," Lantos
Human rights was among key issues raised by US President George W. Bush to
Hu during the Chinese leader's visit to the United States last week.
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