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Monday, October 08, 2007

A Courageous Advocate Challenges Repression

Recently Gao lost his freedom after writing a letter to the US Congress about the genocide in China. You can help rescue Gao here.

Review of Gao Zhisheng's A China More Just
By Ed Chapin
Special to The Epoch Times
Oct 05, 2007

(Broad Press)
(Broad Press)

A China More Just, by Gao Zhisheng is a compelling chronicle of what one dedicated person can do to challenge the world's most repressive government. Gao's life story is both remarkable and compelling. Born into abject poverty in rural China, denied education and unable to afford a formal legal education, he studied law by listening to lectures from a vantage point outside the classroom. Remarkably, with little formal education and never having sat in a classroom in law school, he passed the bar examination on his first attempt.

The major challenge for attorney Gao is that he lives and practices law in the People's Republic of China, a totalitarian state where the Rule of Law is unlikely to be followed when the weak and underprivileged are pitted against the powerful government or business interests. Working in a corrupt system where favoritism is regularly bestowed on businesses and government bureaucrats to the exclusion of the common people, Gao's successes in legal cases are striking exceptions to what routinely occurs in the legal system in China.

A China More Just, 255 pages, Broad Press, $14.95, Purchase here

Once he became an attorney Gao chose to remember his roots. Instead of representing the elite and powerful interests in his country, he represents poor, underprivileged, downtrodden and disadvantaged people in claims against the state. Seeking justice for those who are most in need of it is the true calling of an advocate.

Gao has experienced success in representing clients in many areas of the law. One area in which he has achieved notoriety and personal satisfaction is in representing children who are the victims of serious injuries. Through his efforts, permanently maimed children received compensation for their misfortunes. Gao's dogged efforts enabled his young clients to obtain financial assistance for medical treatment and dealing with the consequences of their injuries and disabilities.

Gao's reputation for success in his cases over the years spread throughout China. Potential clients would travel across the vast country seeking him out to represent them. In many instances Gao represented suffering clients without payment of any fees. He feels he has no choice but to represent them regardless of whether he is paid for his services. When parents bring their children thousands of miles to see him and he learns of the pain they have suffered, "their tears become his tears so he is compelled to represent them".

...In recent years, Gao has taken on the ultimate challenge as a lawyer; he has become involved in cases which defy the arbitrary mandates of the central government, the highest level of authority in China. His representation of members of a popular self-improvement group called Falun Gong has become his biggest personal and professional challenge. This group, reportedly numbers tens of millions members, was outlawed by the Chinese government in 1999.

For reasons that are not entirely clear, Falun Gong has incurred the wrath of regime leaders in China. Its members are unmercifully persecuted throughout the country. Gao, in serving as legal counsel to various Falun Gong members is a target of persecution as well on account of defending the rights of his clients to practice their beliefs.

Merely because he discharges his professional responsibility in representing Falun Gong members, Gao has been prosecuted, found guilty and sentenced to three years in prison. Undaunted by the prosecution, Gao continues to represent the group's members in civil rights cases. His reward for his courageous advocacy is more prosecution. (more)

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