Human rights activist Harry Wu is one of the world’s leading human-rights dissidents out of China. When had been expelled from China after being convicted of spying and sentenced him to 15 years in jail, said he would have starved himself to death if Chinese authorities had made him serve a jail sentence.
Harry Wu – China & USA
He had decided to go on hunger strike if Chinese authorities made him serve any of the jail term rather than deporting him. I decided if they put me in the jail even one month or two months or three months (and were) not going to deport me, I decided to have a hunger strike unto the death, Wu said. That’s the only choice: freedom or death, Wu told a news conference when coming back to the USA.
Wu, 58, a naturalized American citizen who has angered China by documenting charges of human rights abuses in Chinese labor camps, was arrested after entering China and had spent two months isolated in a small cell. His expulsion was expected to ease troubled Sino-U.S. relations. Wu, who sometimes joked and at others appeared close to tears, looked weak and emotionally drained after his imprisonment, which turned into a high-profile irritant to Sino- U.S. relations. Wu said that when he was reunited with his wife Ching Lee at San Francisco airport Thursday night, he asked her to remarry him. I confessed to my wife: I didn’t think about you a lot because thinking a lot I would go mad. A charge of espionage can carry the death penalty in China.
In an interview with Reuters, Wu was adamant that he would go on with his struggle to end alleged human rights abuses in China’s labor camps. The fight is continuing. (There is) no way for me to give up or withdraw a single inch, he said. Wu said he is committed to returning to China one day but declined to say whether he would risk imprisonment by going back. He said Chinese authorities would jail him again if he did return.
Wu was born into a bourgeois family that was fairly affluent when compared to the rest of China’s population. My father was a banker and my mother had descended from a family of well-to-do landlords, Wu told WorldNetDaily. My youth was one of peace and pleasure. Then in 1949 came the communist revolution, led by Mao. My life changed dramatically. During my teen-age years, my father lost all his properties. We had money problems. The government took over all the property in the country. We even had to sell my piano.
You see, freedom is priceless. I had it, then lost it. Then I finally got it back. You cannot understand what it means to have freedom unless you have lost it. Harry Wu.
Biography: Harry Wu was first arrested as a young student in Beijing for speaking out against the Soviet invasion of Hungary and criticizing the Chinese Communist Party. In 1960, he was sent to the Laogai – China’s Gulag – as a “counter-revolutionary rightist.” During the next 19 years he was imprisoned in 12 different forced labor camps manufacturing chemicals, mining coal, building roads, clearing land, and planting and harvesting crops. He was beaten, tortured and nearly starved to death. He witnessed the deaths of many other prisoners from brutality, starvation and suicide.
Released in 1979, Wu finally left China and came to the United States in 1985 as a visiting professor of Geology at the University of California at Berkeley. Later, he began writing about his experiences in the Laogai. He chose to end his academic work and become a human rights activist dedicated to exposing the truth about the Laogai – the largest forced labor camp system in the world today.
He has testified before various United States Congressional committees, as well as the British, German and Australian Parliaments, the European Parliament and the United Nations. In 1992, he established the Laogai Research Foundation, a non-profit research and public education organization. The work of the Laogai Research Foundation is recognized as the leading source of information on the human rights situation in China’s forced labor camps.
In the summer of 1995, he was arrested by the Chinese government as he tried to enter China with valid, legal documentation. He was held by the Chinese government for 66 days before he was convicted in a show trial for “stealing state secrets.” He was sentenced to 15 years, but immediately expelled as a result of an extensive international campaign launched on his behalf. Since his release, he has continued his work in publicizing the fight to condemn the Laogai and document its atrocities.
He is the author of three books. Laogai: The Chinese Gulag, published in 1991, is the first book to address the systematic abuses of the Laogai. Bitter Winds, published in 1994, is his memoirs of his time in the camps. His latest book, Troublemaker, was published in 1996. It tells of his clandestine trips back into China to gather evidence on the Laogai and his detention by the Chinese government in the summer of 1995.
He received the Freedom Award from the Hungarian Freedom Fighters’ Federation in 1991. In 1994, he received the first Martin Ennals Human Rights Award from the Swiss Martin Ennals Foundation. In 1996, he was awarded the Medal of Freedom, also known as the Beggars’ Medal, from the Dutch World War II Resistance Foundation. He also received honorary degrees from St. Louis University and the American University in Paris during 1996.
Interview with Robert A. Senser;
Harry Wu’s web;