Standing Up for Human Rights in China

When it comes to human rights violations, few countries have received as much criticism as China. With a justice system plagued by unfair trials, harsh treatment of its detained citizens, and intrusive surveillance, it’s easy to understand why China’s government has drawn the ire of the world’s superpowers. Although China would argue that democracy is a “Western idea,” no human being deserves to be treated like chattel.

In this lesson, “Standing Up For Human Rights In China,” students learn about Harry Wu, who spent 19 years in Chinese prison camps. For peacefully speaking out against the 1956 Soviet invasion of Hungary, he was physically and mentally tortured and stripped of his humanity. After his release, he made his way to the United States, eventually testifying before Congress on the Chinese government’s practice of selling executed prisoners’ organs for profit. In 2008, Wu opened the first-ever museum dedicated exclusively to human rights abuses in China. Through Wu’s story, students will be able to provide examples of dehumanization, understand how labor camps deny human rights, and learn to find the courage to stand up for their beliefs.

Harry Wu was a Chinese American activist and dissident. Wu committed his life to documenting and revealing the abuses he experienced as a prisoner of the laogai, the Chinese labor camps.

Because all the activities involve independent or group research that can be done online, this lesson plan fits into either virtual or in-person classrooms, with opportunities for discussion and collaboration on Zoom or with classmates.