Press Releases

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today led a bipartisan group of senators in calling on President Obama to urge the Chinese government to allow Gao Zhisheng, a Chinese human rights lawyer, to relocate to the United States due to his critical medical condition.

In a letter to the President, the senators expressed concern over Gao’s deteriorating health following his unjust detainment in a Chinese prison, and urged Obama to press the Chinese government to allow Gao to rejoin his family in the United States, where he can receive the necessary medical care.  

“We are deeply concerned that Mr. Gao’s health will continue to deteriorate without immediate access to quality medical attention,” the senators wrote. “His wife and two children have been granted political asylum in the United States and have appealed for U.S. assistance in securing Mr. Gao’s relocation to California for treatment. 

“As such, we ask that you engage the Chinese government at the highest levels regarding the urgent need to relocate Mr. Gao to the United States for immediate medical attention,” the senators added. “In addition, we urge you to make this issue a priority as you prepare to meet Chinese President Xi at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in November.”

In addition to Rubio, the letter was signed by Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), James Inhofe (R-OK), Ben Cardin (D-MD), John Cornyn (R-TX), Ed Markey (D-MA), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Mark Begich (D-AK).

A PDF of the letter is available here. The full text of the letter is below:

October 2, 2014

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Mr. President:

We write to express our profound concern regarding the health and welfare of Chinese human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng and to ask that you use all available diplomatic means to urge the Chinese government to immediately allow him to relocate to the United States on humanitarian grounds due to his critical medical condition.

A self-taught advocate and legal rights defender, Mr. Gao is known for representing China’s most vulnerable citizens—including religious minorities, factory workers, coal miners, and victims of land seizures.

Since his arrest and trial in 2006, Mr. Gao has been forcibly disappeared by Chinese authorities at least six times.  In 2010, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention determined Mr. Gao’s secret detention was arbitrary and in violation of international law.

Since Mr. Gao was released from prison last month, he has reported having been subjected to inhumane detention conditions, including torture, malnutrition and solitary confinement. As a result, Mr. Gao’s family reports he is suffering from serious physical and psychological issues. However, he is now being held under house arrest and denied access to critical medical care.

We are deeply concerned that Mr. Gao’s health will continue to deteriorate without immediate access to quality medical attention. His wife and two children have been granted political asylum in the United States and have appealed for U.S. assistance in securing Mr. Gao’s relocation to California for treatment. 

As such, we ask that you engage the Chinese government at the highest levels regarding the urgent need to relocate Mr. Gao to the United States for immediate medical attention. In addition, we urge you to make this issue a priority as you prepare to meet Chinese President Xi at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in November.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,