Hongda Harry Wu: The Independent Institute

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Hongda Harry Wu
Hongda Harry Wu

Hongda Harry Wu (1937–2016) was a Chinese human rights activist who spent nineteen years in twelve different Chinese "laogai" labor camps, mining coal, building roads, clearing land, and planting and harvesting crops. According to his own accounts, he was beaten, tortured and nearly starved to death, and witnessed the deaths of many other prisoners from brutality, starvation, and suicide. Wu was released from his life sentence in 1979 at the age of 42, as a result of political changes following the death of Mao Zedong.

He was the Founder and Executive Director of the Laogai Research Foundation and Founder of the Laogai Museum in Washington, D.C. He was the recipient of the Freedom Award from the Hungarian Freedom Fighters’ Federation, the first Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders, the Courage of Conscience Award by the Peace Abbey, and the Medal of Freedom from the Dutch World War II Resistance Foundation. He also received honorary degrees from St. Louis University and the American University of Paris and an honorary doctorate from the Institute of World Politics.

He is the author of the books, Bitter Winds: A Memoir of My Years in China’s Gulag, Laogai: The Chinese Gulag, Troublemaker, andThunderstorm in the Night.

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