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Editors note: Prominent Chinese dissident Wei Jingsheng will be available to meet with members of the media at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 10 at Old Public Library, 307 E. College St. Wei will be accompanied by an interpreter.

Release: Immediate

Noted Chinese dissident Wei Jingsheng speaks Sept. 10 at UI

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- One of China's most well-known political dissidents will present a lecture on human rights at 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 10 in Levitt Auditorium of the Boyd Law Building on the University of Iowa campus.

Wei Jingsheng, who, after more than 15 years in prison, was released from China in November 1997, will present the lecture as part of "Global Focus: Human Rights '98," the UI's year-long commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The talk is the first in a series of lectures sponsored by Global Focus: Human Rights '98 during the 1998-99 academic year. All lectures in the series are free and open to the public.

Wei, who spent a total of 18 years as a political prisoner in China for his adamant calls for democratic reforms in his native country, was the focus of national and international attention last November when the Communist leadership of China allowed him to emigrate to the United States for medical treatment.

Wei's calls for democratization in the late 1970s foreshadowed many of the protests that culminated in the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown. His 1978-79 essay calling for democracy in China, "The Fifth Modernization," has become a landmark in the political debate on China.

He was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 1979 and, after a brief parole, was sentenced to an additional 14 years in 1995.

He currently is a visiting faculty member at the University of California at Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism.

Burns H. Weston, professor of international law and chair of Global Focus: Human Rights '98, says Wei is a shining example of the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

"For the political 'crime' of speaking openly and critically about the political life of his country, Wei Jingsheng has spent a third of his life in prison," Weston says. "Yet his faith has never wavered and his hope for future generations of Chinese people has never faltered."

"Wei embodies the ideals of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a document that clearly spells out the political, social, cultural and economic aspirations for freedom for all people, regardless of the country in which they live," Weston says.

Wei is one of several prominent human rights activists and scholars who will be visiting the UI as part of Global Focus: Human Rights '98 during the fall 1998 semester.

Others include:

-- Joan Baez, folk singer and activist, will perform at 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 11 at Hancher Auditorium;

-- Jerome Shestack, immediate past president of the American Bar Association, 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 24 in the Levitt Auditorium of the Boyd Law Buiding;

-- Elie Wiesel, 1986 Nobel Peace Prize winner, 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 14 at Hancher Auditorium;

-- Dith Pran, Cambodian activist and journalist, 8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 27, Buchanan Auditorium, Pappajohn Business Administration Building;

-- Rigoberta Menchu Tum, 1992 Nobel Peace Prize winner, 8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 12, Macbride Auditorium, Macbride Hall;

-- Legal scholar Ronald Dworkin, 4 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 19, Levitt Auditorium, Boyd Law Building;

-- Writer Adam Hochschild, 8 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 1, Shambaugh Auditorium, Main Library.

For more information about Wei Jingsheng and for updates about events and activities for Global Focus: Human Rights '98, visit the HR98 website: