Renowned Chinese dissident opens museum to expose labor camps
Yahoo! CEO Jerry Yang to join Harry Wu at grand opening of the Laogai Museum
Washington, DC, Oct. 30 - Renowned Chinese dissident, Harry Wu, is opening the Laogai Museum in Washington, DC, which will be the first of its kind within the U.S. to directly address human rights topics in China. Its focus will be the Laogai -- the most extensive system of forced labor camps in the world.
In 1960, at age 23, Wu was sentenced to life in the Laogai for criticizing the Communist Party and its support for the Soviet invasion of Hungary. Wu labored for 19 years in 12 different prison camps until finally being released in 1979, following Mao's death and Deng Xiaoping's rise to power. With only $40 in his pocket, Wu immigrated to the U.S. in 1985 and established the Laogai Research Foundation in 1992. He subsequently made several trips back to China where he worked undercover to document the Laogai. He also investigated the export of Laogai products to the U.S. (it is illegal to import forced-labor products under U.S. trade law) and the harvesting of organs from executed prisoners. As a result, Wu was deemed one of China's top public enemies. Upon returning to China in 1995, he was arrested at the border and later sentenced to 15 years in prison for "stealing state secrets," but was released after 66 days in detention due to international outcry and intense pressure from many U.S. political figures.
The Laogai Museum, located at 1109 M St. NW, was created with the support of the recently-established Yahoo! Human Rights Fund. Wu hopes that the museum will preserve the memory of the Laogai's many victims, including the millions who perished within the labor camps, and serve to educate the public about the horrors and atrocities committed by China's Communist regime. To this end, the museum will not only introduce the history and structure of the Laogai, but will also tell the personal stories of many of its prisoners. Since its inception in the early 1950s, an estimated 40-50 million people have been imprisoned in the Laogai, many of them prisoners of conscience. Materials on display, including photographs, government documents, Laogai products, and prisoner uniforms, were taken from Wu's own archives or donated by other Laogai survivors.
Wu will host a grand opening for the Laogai Museum on November 12, 2008. Yahoo! CEO Jerry Yang is slated to cut the ribbon at the opening and deliver remarks, along with Wu and several other Laogai survivors. The museum will be open to the public beginning the following day.
The Laogai Research Foundation is a not-for-profit organization founded by former political prisoner Harry Wu in 1992. Its mission is to gather information on and raise public awareness of the Laogai - China's extensive system of forced-labor prison camps. For more information, please visit www.laogai.org.
Contact: Laogai Museum Planning Group
Tel: 202-408-8300 / 8301