Wei Jingsheng
oil on canvas
20" x 10"

Pro-Democracy and Human Rights Activist

Despite spending the majority of the past two decades in prison, Wei Jingsheng has remained China's most famous dissident. Originally jailed in 1979 for his participation in the Democracy Wall movement, it was his direct, unrepentant challenges to the Communist Party that drew the attention of the populace, as well as the authorities. His essay "The Fifth Modernization" challenged the notion that economic and social progress could take place in China without full participation of citizens in the political process. His arrest and subsequent 18 years in prison were meant to send a message to others harboring similar feelings about the government. However, though suffering from poor health resulting from harsh prison conditions and long spells in isolation, Wei Jingsheng continued to send his message. Days were spent writing long, critical letters to the political leadership and, upon his brief release in 1993, he immediately continued his work for the democracy movement through publications and interviews with the media. At the time of his final release in 1997, over 2000 political prisoners remained incarcerated in China. Wei Jingsheng, now forced to live in exile, continues to work abroad on human rights and democracy issues in China, for the sake of those in prison, and for the sake of those denied their freedom of statement in his own homeland.

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