Chinese dissident Wu to keynote conference

Chinese dissident Wu to keynote conference Chinese dissident Harry Wu will be featured speaker at this year's Farber Center conference in October.

The conference is titled "A Century of Killing: Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing in the 20th Century." The event will be held in Farber Hall in the Old Main building on The University of South Dakota campus in Vermillion.

The co-sponsors of the conference are the USD department of political science, the W.O. Farber Center for Civic Leadership, and the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany. The conference is scheduled to begin Oct. 10 and continue through Oct. 12. Wu speaks at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 11 in the Wayne Knutson Theatre in the Fine Arts Building.

"This is a unique and terrific opportunity for the university," said Dr. Tim Schorn, political science professor and conference organizer. "The conference encourages discussion of a subject that sadly is still a current event. The contribution by well-known scholars and the support of the German government makes this an internationally important event."

Wu spent 19 years as a political prisoner of the Chinese government in what is known as the "Bamboo Gulag." Since being released, he has returned to China several times in an effort to document slavery and human rights abuses. He has also testified before the United States Congress on human rights abuses in China. In 1995, Wu was caught, arrested and convicted by the Chinese government for "stealing state secrets" and sentenced to 15 years in prison. He was then expelled from the country. Wu vows to continue his crusade to expose China's forced labor camps and turn the world's attention to human rights abuses.

"Harry Wu brings a personal experience that serves as an inspiration to all of us," said Schorn. "He has confronted and challenged a government that is not known for its respect for individuals or groups that dare to think differently. Mr. Wu can speak with authority on how a repressive government is threatened by freedom and what a person can do to challenge the status quo. He also embodies the notion that freedom and courage exact a price, in his case exile from his home."

Wu is the founder and executive director of the Laogai Foundation. He was recently awarded the prestigious Martin Ennals Human Rights award. Wu's international bestseller Bitter Winds is an account of his imprisonment by the Chinese government. In 1996, he published a work entitled Troublemaker: One Mans Crusade Against Chinese Cruelty.

The conference will include talks and discussion panels on a wide variety of issues under the heading of genocide. Among the topics addressed will be the holocaust, international politics, why genocide occurs and genocide in Africa, the Americas, China and Europe. Panels and discussions will be held in Farber Hall.

The opening day of the conference will include several panel discussions.

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