The Alexander Hamilton Institute (AHI) on Tuesday June 28 toured the Laogai Museum. The AHI, which is based in New York, selected 20 students from various universities around the United States for a two-week course in Washington, D.C. on national security.
This was the first student tour since the passing of Mr. Wu. At one time, student visitors would engage with Mr. Wu, listening to his story from a privileged childhood in Shanghai, enrollment in university in Beijing, to his unfortunate arrest and 19-year prison term, to the eventual escape from China as an immigrant in the United States. Mr. Wu would then open the floor to questions and discussion.
Today, students have lost the opportunity to hear the first hand account of one man’s struggle against China, against misguided ideologies, and his mission to correct it. Now, the stories are being passed down second-hand. It’s becoming more evident how important it is to inform people, especially the younger generation of the laogai.
Most visitors have never heard of the laogai system. After viewing the museum visitors often ask, “How is this still going on today? What can we do to help?”
The students left with a better understanding of not only the laogai prison system, but of Mr. Wu and the purpose for his museum. At the end, there were some inquiries:
If US condemnation is doing nothing to stop the persistence of these [laogai] camps, why has the international community not done more? If torture in the laogai is so well documented and apparently noticed by the Chinese citizens, why has the populous not shown more anger toward it? Can there be similar strategies used toward China today that were used on the Soviet Union during the Cold War?
After the tour the group leader commentated by saying, “The students were very moved by the Museum, and were astonished that more people aren’t aware of the horrors that have been going on in China for so many decades.”