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Saturday, April 30, 2016

Remembering Harry Wu's visit to Florida International University in 2002

In memoriam: Harry Wu (1937 - 2016)

Chinese Human Rights Defender Harry Wu
On December 10th, 2002 we co-hosted with the Cuban Committee for Human Rights led by Dr. Ricardo Bofill the visit of Chinese dissident, Harry Wu of the Laogai Research Foundation and Daisy Tong of the Vietnamese American Federation.

During the time we spent with him during his visit to South Florida what we saw was a man of great humility who spoke in concrete and first hand terms about the human rights in China but at the same time had a wonderful sense of humor.
Harry was widely known as the time to be one the most prominent political prisoners of Communist China, who had been imprisoned for 19 years, having also made headlines with his courageous act of filming the conditions of Chinese prisons after his release, earning him another 15 year prison sentence in the gulags, but thanks to international pressure was deported to the United States.

He was also the founder of the Laogai Museum in Washington DC, the first museum of its kind, highlighting the history of Chinese human rights atrocities. This was the first time that Harry Wu came to Miami, to address members of the Cuban exile community and it was not without controversy.

Unbeknownst to us, the university was in the midst of talks with the Chinese government on the construction of a new hospitality suite in mainland China. The FIU bureaucracy did everything it could to shutdown the event, but through the enormous effort of FCF members and members of the Cuban Committee for Human Rights the event went on as planned. Needless to say, this was not one of Havana's or Beijing’s happiest days in Miami.

Harry Wu announced his support for the Cuban embargo  while denouncing the lack of such a policy toward China. According to Wu, the majority of the profits have been funneled directly to "dying Communist institutions," thus prolonging their lives, he said. Harry then signed a petition for the indictment of Fidel and Raul Castro for their roles in the February 24, 1996 Brothers to the Rescue shoot down.

Harry Wu was considered a troublemaker to those who only cared about doing business with communist China and were indifferent to the human rights of the Chinese people. On International Human Rights Day 2002 at Florida International University he also became viewed as a troublemaker to those who only care about doing business with communist Cuba and are not interested in the human rights or freedom of the Cuban people.

We mourn the passing of Harry Wu and offer prayers for him and his family along with our continued solidarity with the Chinese people and their struggle for freedom and human rights. We will also carry on being troublemakers for human rights and freedom.

Requiescat in pace Harry Wu

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