< /head > Colorado Coalition for Human Rights: A Chinese Lawyer for Human Rights Fights Back

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

A Chinese Lawyer for Human Rights Fights Back

A remarkable story in the December 13th edition of the New York Times about a Chinese lawyer taking on mulitple human rights cases in China. The Chinese government is attempting to shut him and his law firm down, but Gao Ahisheng continues his fight. To view the full article entitled, "Legal Gadfly Bites Hard, and Beijing Slaps Him," click on the title of the article. The life story of Gao is inspiring enough as the article reports:

Mr. Gao was born in a cave. His family lived in a mud-walled home dug out of a hillside in the loess plateau in Shaanxi Province, in northwestern China. His father died at age 40. For years the boy climbed into bed at dusk because his family could not afford oil for its lamp, he recalled.
Nor could they pay for elementary school for Mr. Gao and his six siblings. But he said he listened outside the classroom window. Later, with the help of an uncle, he attended junior high and became adept enough at reading and writing to achieve what was then his dream: to join the People's Liberation Army.
Stationed at a base in Kashgar, in Xinjiang region, he received a secondary-school education and became a party member. But his fate changed even more decisively after he left the service and began working as a food vendor. One day in 1991 he browsed a newspaper used to wrap a bundle of garlic. He spotted an article that mentioned a plan by Deng Xiaoping, then China's paramount leader, to train 150,000 new lawyers and develop the legal system.
"Deng said China must be governed by law," Mr. Gao said. "I believed him."
He scraped together the funds to take a self-taught course on the law. The course mostly required a prodigious memory for titles and clauses, which he had. He passed the tests easily. Anticipating a future as a public figure, he took walks in the early morning light, pretending fields of wheat were auditoriums full of important officials. He delivered full-throated lectures to quivering stalks.
By the late 1990's, though based in remote Xinjiang, he developed a winning reputation. He represented the family of a boy who sank into a coma when a doctor mistakenly gave him an intravenous dose of ethanol. He won a $100,000 payout, then a headline-generating sum, in a case involving a boy who had lost his hearing in a botched operation.
He also won a lawsuit on behalf of a private businessman in Xinjiang. The entrepreneur had taken control of a troubled state-owned company, but a district government used force to reclaim it after the businessmen turned it into a profit-making entity. China's highest court backed the businessman and Mr. Gao.

--Tom Hayes


Blogger Joel Schectman said...

It is interesting that he was able to continue with his work as long as he did...it seems that the PRC is almost making a statement in allowing this to get published. I write about this in my blog.


1:40 AM  

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