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Laogai survivor Harry Wu established the Laogai Research Foundation (LRF) in 1992 to gather information on and raise public awareness of human rights violations in China’s prison system.
- Researching and publishing reports and articles on human rights abuses in China’s prison system. Most recently, we issued a report on the systematic harvesting of organs from executed prisoners for use in organ transplants;
- Publishing the Laogai Handbook, a compilation of all known information about Laogai facilities in China. The Handbook lists details such as camp location and size, known inmates, products manufactured, and other statistics;
- Publishing reports on the exportation of Laogai products and researching business relationships between American companies and Laogai prisons for US federal agencies;
- Providing financial support to Laogai survivors, organizing gatherings for survivors, and inviting survivors to participate in LRF events. We also publish the critically acclaimed Black Series, a collection of stories and testimonies written by Laogai survivors;
- Providing financial, legal, and logistical assistance to the children and families of current and former political prisoners who are living in the US;
- Working to document and publicize other systemic human rights violations in China, including the coercive enforcement of China's "one-child" population control policy and the operation of China’s Internet censorship and surveillance system. In furtherance of these efforts, LRF has conducted investigations in China, published reports and books, and provided Congressional testimony;
- Maintaining a Chinese language website, Observe China, which features articles and commentaries on contemporary China affairs and historical events.
LRF serves as an authoritative source for journalists, researchers, politicians, and other human rights organizations seeking information on human rights in China generally and the Laogai System specifically.
The Laogai Museum opened in November 2008 with the support of the Yahoo! Human Rights Fund. It is the only museum in the United States solely dedicated to historical and contemporary Chinese human rights issues. We hope that the museum will preserve the memory of the Laogai's many victims and serve to educate the public about the atrocities committed by China's communist regime.
The Laogai Archives are in the offices of the Laogai Research Foundation in Washington, DC.
Due to the suppression of free speech within China, much of the material housed within the Laogai Archives is not available to researchers in mainland China. Thus, the Laogai Archives are a unique and valuable resource for academics, journalists, students, and activists conducting research on human rights in China.
Harry Wu knows firsthand the atrocious conditions of the Laogai. In 1960, Wu was imprisoned at the age of 23 for criticizing the Communist Party and subsequently spent 19 years toiling in the factories, mines, and fields of the Laogai.
He was released in 1979 and came to the US in 1985 with just $40 in his pocket. Since then, he has traveled back to China multiple times to further investigate Laogai camps and promote human rights developments in China. Wu founded the Laogai Research Foundation in 1992 to gather information on and raise public awareness of the Chinese Laogai.
In 1995, Chinese authorities arrested and charged Wu, then a US citizen, with "stealing state secrets" in retaliation for his efforts to expose human abuses in China, among them his participation in a CBS 60 Minutes segment documenting China's vast labor camp system. A Chinese court subsequently sentenced him to 15 years in prison. Due to the tireless efforts of US politicians, human rights activists, and diplomats, Chinese authorities deported Wu in 1995.
Wu passed away on April 26, 2016 while vacationing with family. His friends and colleagues continue where he left off promoting awareness of human rights abuses in China. His memory lives on through the success of the Laogai Research Foundation and Laogai Museum.