Thursday, February 11, 2010
China's worst 'disappearance'
"Disappeared," in Spanish desaparecido, is one of the most hideous terms to enter the evil lexicon of international human rights abuses. It was first used during the rule of the military junta that ruled Argentina from 1976 to 1983 and it denoted people who had been disappeared – an intransitive verb become transitive – because organs of state power had kidnapped them, made them vanish from view, and often murdered them clandestinely.
He and his entire family were then put under round-the-clock surveillance, with four plainclothes police thugs at one point assigned to keep watch on his then three-year-old son. Amnesty International claimed that security police in 2006 had tried to assassinate Gao in a faked car wreck. Gao was released from a 54-day detention in December 2007 after a "confession" had been extracted from him after days of absolutely brutal torture (electric shock batons to the private parts and toothpick jabs all over his naked body). On his release he recanted the confession.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry, understandably, has been deluged by requests for information about Gao, his well-being, and his whereabouts. In one bizarre episode last September, Chinese authorities claimed that Gao had gone for a walk and "gone lost," as if he were an absent-minded professor in Carmel, CA, rather than a tortured inmate of China's secret prisons. In February this year, a Chinese spokesman said that Gao was "where he should be" -- an Orwellian idiocy almost as absurd as the assertion he had "gone lost."
Gao is arguably the bravest and most heroic human-rights campaigner to have emerged in China for years. As China becomes financially more powerful and more assertive, its government will probably be more defiant about its human-rights record. The new practice of "disappearing" people is an outrage. Those interested in helping Gao should sign the petition at FreeGao.com.
at 12:29 PM