Wednesday
Jan142009

WU, Harry

Harry Wu

The founder of the Laogai Research Foundation, Harry Wu has worked tirelessly for nearly two decades to alert the world to the abusive and inhumane conditions in China ’s forced labor camps (laogai).

Mr. Wu was a college student when he was imprisoned in the laogai after he criticized communism. He remained in prison for nineteen years, doing physical labor and witnessing the brutal deaths of countless fellow prisoners. He was regularly forced to “confess” his crimes. Released in 1979, he taught geology for several years at a Chinese university, and in 1985 settled in the U.S. In 1990, he was asked to testify about the laogai before the U.S. Senate, an experience that launched his career as a human rights activist.

In 1992, he devoted himself fulltime to educating people about the laogai. On a research trip to China in 1995, he was arrested, tried, and convicted for “spreading state secrets,” and was sentenced to fifteen years in prison. Thanks to an international movement to free him, the Chinese government ejected him from the country rather than compel him to serve his sentence. Mr. Wu is the author of Bitter Winds: A Memoir of My Years in China’s Gulag.

He lectures around the world, testifies regularly before governing bodies, and has received a number of awards for his humanitarian efforts, including the Award for Human Rights Defenders from Switzerland ’s Martin Ennals Foundation, the Freedom Award from the Hungarian Freedom Fighters’ Federation, and the Medal of Freedom from the Dutch World War II Resistance Foundation. He is also a member of the International Council of the New York-based Human Rights Foundation.