charcoal on paper
17" x 14"
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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