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

Photogallery Early Nigeria Results Show Buhari Leading; Tampering Concerns Mount

One local group monitoring polls is concerned politicians might use security agencies to 'fiddle with the election collation process' at state level More

UN: 7,300 Civilians Killed in Boko Haram Insurgency

A senior UN humanitarian official tells the United Nations Security Council 1,000 people have been killed this year More

Turkish President Warns Iran About Trying to Dominate Middle East

Warning comes amid growing concerns inside Turkey that it will be sucked into a sectarian conflict with its neighbor 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.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More