On March 19th, Laogai Research Foundation director Harry Wu had the opportunity to speak about human rights in China with students at the University of Pennsylvania. The lecture was part of the semester-long Center for East Asian Studies Colloquium Series, “China and International Human Rights , which is led by the Center’s Director, Professor Jacques deLisle. Dr. deLisle is also the Stephen A. Cozen Professor of Law and a professor of Political Science at University of Pennsylvania. This semester Dr. deLisle is teaching a law course in conjunction with the colloquium on China and International Human Rights. The seminars address Chinese approaches to human rights over the last few decades, bringing in guest speakers from NGOs, government, and academia, encouraging interdisciplinary discussion among students and professionals in the field.
In the afternoon, Harry Wu met with a small group of undergraduate students pursuing degrees in Chinese Studies and International Relations. Harry shared with them the harsh reality of the Laogai forced labor prison system, as well as other abuses committed by the Chinese government including the One Child Policy, crackdown on dissent, religious persecution, and organ harvesting from executed prisoners. The students were curious to know how these issues can be handled within the framework of U.S.-China relations, and were interested in how LRF works to raise awareness of these issues.
Later, during Professor deLisle’s China and International Human Rights the course, Harry told of his journey – from being locked up and forced to labor in the Laogai for 19 years, to finally becoming a free man in the U.S., to sneaking back into China to investigate the brutal prison system. He showed countless photographs taken from within prison walls, giving students a look at life inside forced labor camps. His lecture was followed by an open question and answer session, where students asked about his views on the current state of human rights in China, prospects for democratization and reform, attitudes within Chinese society, and the shortcomings of current U.S. China policy. For more information about the China and International Human Rights Colloquium, click here.