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A Democracy and Human Right Activist

Wei Jingsheng is the most famous contemporary Chinese democracy and human rights fighter, he is also a rebel leader against the dictatorship of the Chinese Communist Party. As a result of his active involvement in the cause of democracy in China, in particular his publication of the Fifth Modernization article in the Xidan Democracy Wall in Beijing in 1978 and the publication of the journal Exploration, he was arrested twice and imprisoned for up to eighteen years. Later, the  letters Wei secretly wrote on the toilet paper in prison explaining his views were compiled into a "Letters from Prison and Other Writings", which is widely circulated in China and is translated into many languages overseas as "COURAGE TO STAND ALONE". 

       Wei's spirit and philosophy was respected by the international community, In 1996, Wei was awarded Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award, along with the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, and the National Endowment for Democracy Award in 1997, the Olof Palme Memorial Prize in 1994. Since 1993, he has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize almost every year. He is also known as "China's Mandela".

       Wei's parents were senior China Communism Party cadres. He was born in 1950, at the beginning of the founding of the P.R.C. While he was educated in the so-called "Red Aristocracy" school in Beijing, he witnessed the CCP's power struggles in Zhongnanhai. When the Cultural Revolution broke out in 1966, at the age of 16, Wei joined in the Red Guards and went to the national tandem. From south to north, especially in the remote northwest China, he experienced the darkness of Chinese rule and the plight of the Chinese people, and thus sprouted the concept of freedom and democracy. At the same time, he also outlined the blueprint for China in the future. In order to avoid the persecution of the authorities, his parents sent him back to their hometown in Anhui, then let him join the army. 

         After demobilization to Beijing in 1973, he began working as an electrician at the Beijing Zoo. In 1978, some workers and intellectuals spontaneously proclaimed democracy and freedom in the form of a poster in Beijing's Xidan. Wei was one of the important members. In this movement known as the Democracy Wall he published a series of articles entitled "The Fifth Modernization". He openly challenged the dictators of the Chinese Communist Party and dared to leave his real name. When he wrote "Democracy or New Dictatorship" in the journal "Exploration", he was imprisoned on the third day of the criticism of the Chinese Communist Party leader Deng Xiaoping.

       In 1979, Wei was sentenced to fifteen years on charges of "counter-revolution." In court, he made a self-defense for himself. That defense speech was secretly recorded by a friend, brought out and widely spread in the media at China and abroad. Wei first spent eight months in a death row, and later imprisoned alone for nearly five years. Before being released in 1993, he was tortured by prison guards and other inmates in difficult conditions in Tangshan prison and Qinghai labor camps. But six months later, he was arrested again. This time, he was sentenced to fourteen years for "counter-revolutionary" crimes. Under the strong pressure of international public opinion, Wei finally ended his 18-year prison life in November 1997. He was sent directly from the cell to fly to the United States. The outside world always thought that this was the result of the transaction between President Bill Clinton and President Jiang Zemin, but Wei believed that going abroad did not mean that he had gained freedom, but just the beginning of exile and another form of persecution.

        Overseas, Wei overcame all the pains of perennial cell torture, continued to run for China's free and democratic cause. He firmly assumed the responsibility for the Chinese democracy movement, with his personal wisdom, perseverance and international influence, from Asia to the Americas, from Europe to Australia Pacific region, from the Congress to the University Forum, Wei touched countless people with their excellent political views, persistent pursuit and exuberant appeal. With his excellent writing and eloquence, the idea of freedom and democracy was widely spread to listeners and readers in China and abroad through radio, television, newspaper, and internet media. In recent years, the international community has become increasingly aware of the human rights situation in China, alone with more and more concern about the democratic process in China.

       Since 1998, Wei was elected as the Chairman of Overseas Chinese Democracy Coalition by China Overseas Democrats. This distributed overseas Chinese democracy movement led by Wei Jingsheng is going to overthrow the dictatorship of the CCP and build a democratic China.

Wei Jingsheng Foundation:

P. O. Box 15449 Washington, DC 20003 USA



Chinese Labor Solidarity Union: www.ChinaLaborUnion.org

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