Harry Wu Says ‘June 4th’ Told the Truth About China
By Daniel Nardini
The well-known Chinese human rights advocate Harry Wu sent an e-mail expressing his pleasure upon reading the article “June 4th: Tiananmen Square Memorial Day” in the May 30th issue of the Prairie Advocate News.
Mr. Wu commented that the article “told the truth” and that as a survivor of the government in China he was not surprised about the Chinese government’s mass slaughter of the students and the people of Beijing in 1989.
He was happy to see a news line about this subject in the Prairie Advocate, and he hopes more American newspapers will carry stories about June 4th and other truthful news stories about what is happening in China today.
Harry Wu was born in Shanghai in 1937 to an affluent family. When the Chinese Communists took control of the country in 1949, Mr. Wu’s family suffered persecution. In 1960, Mr. Wu was arrested for being a “counter-revolutionary rightist.” He had criticized the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956. For this criticism he was sent to the laogai (forced labor camps) where he would be imprisoned without trial for the next 19 years.
During his time in the labor camps, he was tortured, nearly starved to death, and was forced to work from dawn until very late at night. Like other prisoners, he was given hardly any food, and had to supplement his diet by catching frogs, mice and rats to eat.
He was finally released in 1979 as part of the Chinese government’s rehabilitation effort of rightists after the death of Chinese leader Mao Zedong in 1976. Mr. Wu returned to become a teacher at the Geoscience University of Beijing. However, the Chinese government did not trust Mr. Wu, and Mr. Wu feared he might be returned to the laogai.
Mr. Wu managed to come to the United States in 1985 on a chance invitation from the University of California at Berkeley as a visiting scholar. He never returned to China.
In 1992, he established the Laogai Research Foundation—a non-profit organization dedicated to finding out the truth about the laogai and on human rights in China. In 2008, Mr. Wu opened the Laogai Museum in Washington, D.C., and currently Mr. Wu works to address the issue of human rights in China.
Harry Wu has been the recipient of the Freedom Award from the Hungarian Freedom Fighters’ Federation and the recipient of the Medal of Freedom from the Dutch Resistance World War II Foundation. He has received honorary degrees from St. Louis University and the American University in Paris. He has written two books; Bitter Winds and Troublemaker.