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Release: Immediate

Chinese exile and human rights activist Wu to speak at UI March 9

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Chinese dissident Harry Wu will discuss his international campaign to expose human rights abuses in his native country at 8 p.m. Monday, March 9 in Room W10 of the Pappajohn Business Administration Building as part of the University of Iowa's year-long commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Wu, founder and executive director of the Laogai Research Foundation, has been a leading campaigner to expose incidents of slavery and other human rights abuses in the Chinese prison camp system.

He spent 19 years in Chinese prisons for his efforts on behalf of human rights, and most recently was arrested and expelled from China in 1995 for secretly filming prison camps in the country.

The lecture, which is free and open to the public, is one of the keynote events in the year-long series "Global Focus: Human Rights '98," a year-long UI and community initiative to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the signing of the United Nations Universal Declaration on Human Rights.

Other guest speakers during 1998-99 will include Nobel Peace Prize winners Elie Wiesel and Rigobertha Menchu Tum, and British Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Mo Mowlam.

The Wu lecture is sponsored by Global Focus: Human Rights '98 with additional support from the Center for Asian and Pacific Studies, the International and Comparative Law Program, and the University Lecture Committee.

"Harry Wu is one of the most committed human rights activists in the world," says Burns H. Weston, professor of law and chair of the Global Focus '98 advisory committee. "Time and time again, he has risked his life to document abuses and atrocities in his native country."

Wu, who has secretly returned to China three times since 1991 to document prison camp atrocities, is the author of the book "Bitter Winds," his account of imprisonment and survival in the "bamboo gulag" of China.

He is also the author of "Troublemaker: One Man's Crusade against China's Cruelty," an account of his camp experience and his campaign to shed light on the Chinese prison system.

Wu has received the prestigious Martin Ennals Human Rights Award and the AFL-CIO Award "For Outstanding Public Service and Leadership on Issues Affecting all Working Men And Women."

For more information about Global Focus '98 activities, visit the website at


EDITORS NOTE: Here is a list of upcoming and future activities taking place as part of Global Focus: Human Rights '98 at the University of Iowa:

-- Town Meeting: Race Relations in Iowa City/Coralville, Feb. 17, Iowa City Public Library, Room A at 7 p.m. A panel discussion representing diverse community views on race relations in Iowa City/Coralville, moderated by Alison Ames Galstad, professor and the affirmative action officer at Cornell College, Mount Vernon.

-- The International Edition radio show, broadcast on UI stations WSUI and KSUI, Saturday, Feb. 14 at 9 p.m. on WSUI (AM 910); Sunday, Feb. 15 at 3:30 p.m. on WSUI (AM 910); and Sunday, Feb. 15 at 5:30 p.m. on KSUI (FM 91.7). The shows will address the UI's commitment to human rights and the Global Focus: Human Rights '98 program of events and activities. Guests will include Burns Weston, chair of the Global Focus '98 advisory committee; Amy Weismann, a first-year law student; and Yenner Karto, a master's student in Third World Development Support.

-- Elie Wiesel, Nobel laureate, lecture, Oct. 15, Hancher Auditorium.

-- Rigoberta Menchu Tum, Nobel laureate, lecture, November 1998, time and place to be announced.