Chinese rights activist Harry Wu dies at 79

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WASHINGTON: Longtime Chinese human rights champion and former political prisoner Harry Wu, who advocated on behalf of those in brutal forced labor camps, has died at age 79, according to his research foundation.

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Wu died Tuesday morning while vacationing in Honduras with friends, the Laogai Research Foundation said in a statement.

He founded the organization in 1992 to analyze and raise awareness about China’s “laogai” or forced labor detention centers, which began under Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Zedong.

While studying at university in China, Wu was sentenced to 19 years in prison after speaking out against the Soviet Union, an ally of China.

He was released in 1979 and in 1985 came to the United States, where he has worked to raise awareness about the laogai, including before Congress.

Wu was arrested in China in 1995 on charges of espionage in retaliation for his human rights work. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison before being deported to the United States.

Wu, an author of multiple books, also founded the Laogai Museum in Washington.

He is survived by his son Harrison and former wife Ching Lee, according to the Laogai Research Foundation. AFP

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