News / Asia

Chinese Dissident Aims to Raise Awareness of Laogai System in Tibet

Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., right, listens as he and human rights activist Harry Wu, left, criticize the one-child rule in China, at the Capitol in Washington, Monday, March 7, 2011. Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., right, listens as he and human rights activist Harry Wu, left, criticize the one-child rule in China, at the Capitol in Washington, Monday, March 7, 2011.
x
Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., right, listens as he and human rights activist Harry Wu, left, criticize the one-child rule in China, at the Capitol in Washington, Monday, March 7, 2011.
Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., right, listens as he and human rights activist Harry Wu, left, criticize the one-child rule in China, at the Capitol in Washington, Monday, March 7, 2011.
WASHINGTON - Chinese and Tibetan human rights advocates are teaming up in Washington this week to raise awareness of the Chinese forced-labor prison camp system, known as laogai, and its use in Tibet.

The three-day conference starting Friday comes at a time when Tibet is making headlines for a rash of nearly 40 self immolations in protest of what some Tibetans say are repressive policies in southwestern China and the Tibetan capital, Lhasa.

The laogai system is lesser known, but it’s a widely used form of repression, according to Harry Wu, who spent 19 years in a Chinese prison camp and is now the director of the Washington-based Laogai Research Foundation.

Wu said the laogai system has two functions: thought reform and forced labor. He says millions of Chinese have been held in the system since it was started in the 1950s.

While Wu has had some successes in raising awareness - the word “laogai” was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2003 - he concedes there has not much U.S. interest in the issue, saying that human rights has taken a backseat to doing business in China.

He hopes that by linking the laogai system with the Tibet issue, which does have a somewhat higher profile in the United States, more people will become concerned with human rights abuses in China and Tibet.

The first day of the conference, which is co-sponsored by the International Campaign for Tibet, the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice and the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, takes place on Capitol Hill and will feature testimonies from Tibetans formerly held in the laogai system, including Tsewang Dhondup, Tubten Khetsun, Dolkar Kyap and Lukar Sham. Also speaking will be U.S. Congressmen Frank Wolf and Chris Smith, as well as Lobsang Nyandak, a representative of the Dalai Lama.

“We have to understand what the laogai system has been doing since 1949. We have to expose the laogai system in Tibet even though it’s not a part of China,” Wu said.

China now refers to the laogai simply as the prison system administration. It does not publish formal information about its prison population, but the Justice Ministry estimated about 1.5 million people were behind bars in 2005, according to local media.

Bhuchung Tsering, the vice president of special programs at The International Campaign for Tibet, said publicizing firsthand stories from laogai survivors can help not only Chinese, but Tibetans, understand the the wider laogai system.

“The challenge is to see how we can continue to put this before the public’s attention,” said Tsering. “There are people in the United States who care about Tibet, there is bipartisan support for Tibet. There will be a different perspective when they see Tibet as part of the laogai framework.”

A complete schedule of events can be seen here.

You May Like

Mood Tense Ahead of Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: HTC from: USA
June 10, 2012 9:47 PM
@Jonathan Huang: Are you a Chinese who lives in Canada? Or Do you live in China and use Canada location to hide your identity? We all need to be sincere, frank to express our comment on this forum. Thank you.


by: Nguyễn from: US
June 09, 2012 4:22 PM
This is how Vietnam going to be when occupied by Chinese. Yes, China is so determined to capture Vietnam for food and natural resources, like oil and gas, sea food that China is very hungry for.


by: Michael Gayer from: USA
June 09, 2012 11:38 AM
China has been for a long time out to destroy what it cannot control. Tibetans, a long proud race have withstood the influx of China's dominance over their way of life for Centuries. Not till the Modern Day did the Chinese have the Ability to conquer Tibet. Now they wish to remove all beliefs in God and Religion from this nation. Like Ovomit and the Democrats are here.


by: Anonymous
June 09, 2012 1:34 AM
sheer nonsense


by: Anonymous
June 09, 2012 1:08 AM
I'm shame of my name "Wu". Why you say the Tibet is not a part of China? Show the evidence. Please read the history of China, it will tell you the truth.Thank you.


by: Jonathan Huang from: canada
June 08, 2012 6:54 PM
First of all, Tibet belongs to China, it is accepted by UN, so obey the international laws, and admit Tibet belongs to China!
Compare to the local prison system which wastes tax payers money and allows those criminals enjoy their jail lives, China's laogai system is must better! those criminals should learn to work and feed themselves then they will give up doing violence.


by: Wangchuk from: NY
June 08, 2012 10:33 AM
First of all, Tibet is not part of China. No Tibetan (who is free of the CCP) believes Tibet is or was part of China. Second, China's sovereignty claim over Tibet does not mean the CCP can violate the human rights of Tibetans. No govt can. Tibetans have basic civil rights & the CCP ignores those rights by arbitrarily imprisoning Tibetans for their religious/political views & torturing Tibetan prisoners. Only the CCP & their 50 Cent Gang want to deny freedom & liberty to Tibetans.


by: Anonymous
June 08, 2012 4:02 AM
Protection of Human rights,is a long-term topic comes from many countries of the world,espically in developed country.In China it is so difficult to implement,even thoug law existence in the country,but Bureaucracy...
Citizens always hope the human rights develop in a fair way.In some way,just to be useful for the powerful man.


by: Anonymous
June 07, 2012 8:31 PM
Tibet is part of China, that's as clear as day.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid