Rights Activism in China: The Case of Lawyer Gao Zhisheng

  • Eva Pils
Part of the The Sciences Po Series in International Relations and Political Economy book series (SPIRP)


In late 2005, a Chinese lawyer named Gao Zhisheng decided to address a particularly “sensitive” political issue in a particularly provocative way. He published an online call, addressed to China’s leadership, to stop the torture of Falungong practitioners, substantiating his appeal by detailed descriptions of individual cases of torture, which he claimed to have received from the tortured victims themselves (Gao 2005a). Within days, his Beijing law firm’s license to practice was suspended and he was put under surveillance by the secret police. However, these were not the only consequences. Following his public call for a hunger strike to oppose state violence, launched a few months later, he was also subjected to vehement criticism by other Chinese lawyers and rights activists, who advised, implored, or even angrily demanded of him to stop. At one point, he narrowly escaped being imprisoned in a yaodong cave by his own brothers in his home village in the province of Shaanxi.


National People Open Letter Home Village Arbitrary Rule Hunger Strike 
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Copyright information

© Stéphanie Balme and Michael W. Dowdle 2009

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  • Eva Pils

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