Human Rights Campaigner Wu Brings Message to Rice

first_imgFacebookTwitterPrintEmailAddThis Share CONTACT: Philip Montgomery PHONE: (713)831-4792E-MAIL: [email protected] RIGHTS CAMPAIGNER WU BRINGS MESSAGE TO RICEDuring 19 years of politicalimprisonment, Harry Wu became an expert scavenger, scouring fields for edibleweeds and capturing snakes and frogs to help relieve his hunger. His fellowprisoners became samples of the depths of human despair&emdash;one tormentedsoul was driven first to insanity, then suicide.In his best-selling book, “Bitter Winds,” Harry Wu chronicleshis 19-year imprisonment in Chinese prison labor camps, where he was subjectedto grueling labor, starvation and torture. His account also provides rare,detailed portraits of the prisoners who became his friends.“An Evening with Harry Wu,” the third President’s LectureSeries talk, is set for at 8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 22, in the Grand Hall of RiceMemorial Center. Wu will discuss “China: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow,” recounting his personal experiences there and commenting on human rightsissues.Wu is founder and executive director of the Laogai ResearchFoundation and a resident scholar at the Hoover Institution at StanfordUniversity. Currently working a lecture circuit, Wu presented about 30 speakingengagements in 1997, most on college campuses.Born in Shanghai in 1937, the son of a wealthy banker, Wu wassent to an elite Jesuit boys’ school before attending Beijing’s GeologyInstitute.In the beginning pages of “Bitter Winds” Wu writes, “I spentthe years of early childhood almost totally insulated from the poverty, violenceand fear that gripped much of Shanghai. Rarely did I have occasion to leave myneighborhood, and I never knew that just half a kilometer from my home, cartsroutinely collected at dawn the bodies of those who had died from illness andstarvation during the night.”Raised as a member of China’s privileged intellectual elite, Wuwas a senior at the Geology Institute when he was arrested by Chineseauthorities on April 27, 1960. His insulated life abruptly became a thing of thepast as he was exiled to prison camps. He was never formally charged or triedduring his 19-year imprisonment, during which time he was transformed from amember of China’s upper class to a faceless prisoner denied the most basic humanrights.“Bitter Winds,” is a powerful account of Wu’s imprisonment andsurvival in the “Bamboo Gulag.” Left for dead in solitary confinement, Wu foughtback from the brink of insanity. Released from prison in 1979, Wu was eventuallyallowed to leave his country and move to the United states.He testified before the U.S. Congress in 1985 on the humanrights abuses he witnessed, and, in 1991, determined to expose the gulag,returned to China with a “60 Minutes” news crew. He posed as a U.S. businessmanbuying prison goods and documented through a hidden camera the images of lifebehind prison walls&emdash;the slavery and human rights abuses.In 1995 he was arrested in China, found guilty of “stealingstate secrets,” sentenced to 15 years in prison, and expelled.Wu’s efforts have been recognized with the prestigious MartinEnnals Human Rights Award and the AFL-CIO Award for outstanding public serviceand leadership on issues affecting all working men and women.His second book, “Troublemaker: One Man’s Crusade AgainstChina’s Cruelty,” was published in 1996.Wu’s is the Martin Luther King Memorial Lecture of thePresident’s Lecture Series. The President’s Lecture Series will conclude March10 with the fourth lecture, “The Science Behind Jurassic Park,” by John R.Horner. Horner is the discoverer of the first dinosaur eggs in the WesternHemisphere. All lectures begin at 8 p.m. in the Grand Hall of the Rice MemorialCenter.###last_img

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