Did the Chinese government murder a prominent civil rights lawyer it previously tortured?

As if to prove my argument that the Chinese government knows only “hard power” and is tone deaf to “soft power,” we learn today that a Chinese civil rights lawyer “went missing” while in Chinese government custody:

Nearly a year after he was seized by the authorities, the only news of one of China’s most tenacious civil rights lawyers has been that he “went missing” after his detention, friends and relatives said Friday.

They say they have not seen or heard from the lawyer, Gao Zhisheng, a Nobel Peace Prize nominee, since he was taken from his home in February.

…the Beijing Public Security Bureau requested that questions be faxed, then declined to comment…

Human rights advocates say the disappearance of Mr. Gao is particularly worrisome, given the mistreatment he said he had endured during a previous incarceration. In a letter he published after his release several years ago, he said he had confessed to sedition charges only after more than a month of torture that included jabs with an electric baton and the piercing of his genitals with toothpicks. At the time, he said, his torturers told him he would be killed if he spoke publicly about his treatment in detention.

Posted by James on Saturday, January 16, 2010