Our Group’s Letters of Concern Helped Release: Wei Jingsheng of China
Your work is of enormous value to those suffering from political oppression. It is perhaps more successful than you yourselves have ever realized.
The Chinese authorities tried everything to stop dissident Wei Jingsheng from speaking out for human rights and democracy – including locking him up in prison for 18 years and subjecting him to torture.
Nothing worked. Finally, frail and sick, Wei Jingsheng was released in 1997 and sent out of the country.
Today Wei Jingsheng is a free man. And unlike his jailors, he has his human rights principles intact.
Wei Jingsheng’s life-story is one of remarkable strength in the face of overwhelming adversity. One source of strength, he says, was the unending and determined support from members of Amnesty International and other organizations.
On his release, one of Wei Jingsheng’s first acts was to write a letter to Amnesty members thanking them for their support. Here are parts of that letter:
“When I first learned of all the hard work that friends at Amnesty International have done for those suffering from political oppression, I was deeply moved by your compassion and staunch determination.
“When I was in prison, my treatment would vary from good to bad … and sometimes the situation would improve suddenly for no apparent reason.
During one of these times, a guard who never usually spoke to me struck up a conversation. I asked him: ‘I guess fewer letters have been coming for me lately, right?’ The guard said: ‘fewer? Old Wei, you get so many letters!’
“I then remembered a friend had told me about the work of Amnesty International, and how many people worked silently for years sending letters on behalf of prisoners of conscience.
“The mental inspiration this gave me greatly surpassed any small improvements in my living conditions.
“Your work is of enormous value to those suffering from political oppression. It is perhaps more successful than you yourselves have ever realized.”