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Harry Wu

Harry WuAKA Hongda Wu

Born: 8-Feb-1937
Birthplace: Shanghai, China

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: Asian
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Activist

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Human rights activist

As a young man in Beijing in 1960, Harry Wu was arrested after speaking out against the Soviet invasion of Hungary, and spent the next nineteen years as a forced laborer in several different prisons for "counter-revolutionaries". Upon his release from prison in 1979, Wu made his way to America, where he taught geology, became an international activist for human rights, and is now a research fellow at the Hoover Institution. He has written extensively on Laogai, China's system of "reform through labor". He founded the Laogai Research Foundation in 1992, and made several clandestine trips back to China to gather more information on the Laogai. He was arrested in 1995 as he tried to enter China through Kazakhstan, subjected to a show trial, and sentenced to fifteen years in prison. Amidst international condemnation of China, he was instead released.

Wife: Ching-Lee

    University: BA Geology, Beijing College of Geology (1960)
    Teacher: Geology, China Geoscience University (1980-85)
    Teacher: Geology, University of California at Berkeley (1985-87)

    Freedom Award (Hungarian Freedom Fighters Federation) 1991
    Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders 1994
    Hoover Institution
    Human Rights Foundation
    National Endowment for Democracy
    Naturalized US Citizen
    Chinese Ancestry

Author of books:
Laogai: The Chinese Gulag (1992)
Bitter Winds: A Memoir of My Years in China’s Gulag (1994, memoir, with Carolyn Wakeman)
Troublemaker: One Man's Crusade against China's Cruelty (1996, memoir)
In the Dragon's Teeth: What the World Doesn't Know about China (2008)


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