Press Release — Chinese Human Rights Lawyer Gao Zhisheng Goes Missing


NEW YORK — The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) requests that the Chinese government provide proof of life of human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng and release information on his current location. Gao, a human rights lawyer who was previously under “residential surveillance” — a form of house arrest frequently used by the Chinese government to detain dissidents — was found to be missing from his home in Xi’an, Shaanxi Province on Sunday morning local time. Gao’s round-the-clock residential surveillance prevents him from leaving his home, even to seek medical care. Gao’s family suspects that state agents were involved in his disappearance, or at the very least have knowledge of his whereabouts.

“Because Mr. Gao dared to defend citizens’ rights in China, he enjoyed no privacy and was under 24/7 surveillance by state agents,” said Thor Halvorssen, president of HRF. “It is therefore difficult to believe that the state agents are innocent in his disappearance. We urge the Chinese government to reveal Mr. Gao’s whereabouts and provide his family with proof of life immediately,” added Halvorssen.

Gao, a prominent human rights lawyer in China, has been persecuted since 2005. In 2006, he was convicted of “inciting subversion of state power” and received a three-year prison term, but was soon released. He was imprisoned incommunicado several more times before his most recent arrest in 2010. In 2014, he was released to live under residential surveillance.

“This is the first time [my father] has gone missing since he was released from prison in 2014,” said Gao Zhisheng’s daughter Grace Gao, who spoke at the Oslo Freedom Forum in May to draw attention to her father’s case. “We just hope to at least know where he is and how long [his disappearance] will be this time.”

The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that promotes and protects human rights globally, with a focus on closed societies.

For press inquiries, contact Prachi Vidwans at (212) 246-8486 or

Watch Grace Gao’s speech at the 2017 Oslo Freedom Forum here.


Call on the Chinese government to provide proof of life of Gao Zhisheng immediately.


Li Keqiang, Premier of China, Email:

Xi Jinping, President of China, Email:

Ambassador Cui Tiankai, Ambassador of China to the United States.

Telephone: +1(202) 495-2266, Email:

Ambassador Liu Jieyi, Ambassador of China to the United Nations.