Prize Dedication to Mr. HU Shigen and Mr. LIU Xianbin as the Awardees
for Wei Jingsheng Foundation's First Annual "Wei Jingsheng Chinese Democracy
Dear friends who support Chinese human rights, freedom and democracy:
Today is an average day. On today, people work, relax, shop, watch TV
and entertainment, as well as enjoy their friendship and family lives.
In the evening, in the bars and dance halls, there is music, people singing along, and dance along.
You hear their laughs, and you hear their applause and cheers...
But also in this average day, in other parts of the world, there are
suppressed people who are not heard. They are locked away, lost from their freedom, their health, even their family... Facing the bare walls of a tiny jail cell, their treasured lives are wasting away, without their loved ones at their side, without friendship, even without understanding and sympathy... Like walking bare foot in the cold darkness, they are walking lonely in the snow-covered ice land. They have been on such a long journey for so long...
These are the people who have voluntarily sacrificed themselves for the
future and happiness of the greater majority. The famous Chinese author Lu Xun
once said:"People are most afraid of darkness. Yet, worse is that there is even
no darkness in existence, and any kind of struggle become inexistence." The famous Jewish author Isaac Bashevis Singer, the 1978 Nobel Literature Prize winner, also expressed that the true heroes are not necessarily those who fought in battle, but those who could survive in the battle against loneliness.
Only those people who are locked away for too long, have the qualification
to tell us what is darkness and loneliness, along with the accompanying
desperation. This loneliness soaked with scariness is their price pay for the voice of freedom. Yet, regardless of the justice and loudness of his or her freedom voice, one may never receive the applause and cheers as the singer during entertainment hours. This fact makes the road to human rights and democracy extremely difficult. And it makes those advocators for freedom, democracy and justice to be the lonely sacrifice. As they are suppressed by dictatorship, they have also to carry the ignorance, even the misunderstanding of others. Their moving yet tragic dedication comes from their persistence in their beliefs and their silence to their own sacrifice.
Among them, there are two outstanding Chinese. One is Mr. HU Shigen.
One is Mr. LIU Xianbin. The Wei Jingsheng Foundation has chosen these two as
the winners of the first annual "Wei Jingsheng Chinese Democracy Champion
Prize", in an effort to salute their years of contribution, dedication and
personal sacrifice for the progress of the Chinese democracy movement.
Our first awardee is Mr. Hu Shigen. Born in 1954, he is one of the
pioneers of the Chinese human rights and democracy movement. In 1991 he, along with Mr. LIU Jingsheng and Mr. WANG Guoqi, founded the Chinese Freedom and Democracy Party, the first political opposition party since the Chinese Communist
Party came to power in 1949. Hu Shigen firmly believed that, for a country of over one billion people, there is a need for a political opposition party and someone must be willing to risk his life in an effort to promote human rights and democracy.
Mr.Hu was actively involved with the establishing of a number of organizations
advocating human rights and democracy, such as " Alliance for China Progress", and "the Preparation Committee of Free Workers' Union of China". Because of his
pioneer role and his leadership, he was punished the most with a 20-year
sentence. Currently, he has been in jail for 12 years, with strict physical
To keep what he believes, Mr. Hu has given up virtually everything he once
had: his wife divorced him; some relatives and friends distanced him. Within
his 12 years of jail time, he rarely got visits. He has only seen his own daughter once. Years of torture have taken a toll on his health. Currently, he suffers from liver disease, heart problems, stomach disease, ear infection and severe neurasthenia. Although he has just reached 50 years old, all his hair has turned to gray. He has a hard time to walk. His eyesight has gone so bad that he could not see the stairs clearly. Both of his legs have fractured. His lumbar vertebra is deformed. If not given timely treatment, he could be handicapped forever.
Hu Shigen was born in the poor area of Jiangxi Province. In his childhood, he
experienced the suffering of the poor. In his later years, he studied hard
for knowledge as well as independent thinking. A college teacher before his
arrest, he combined the best qualities of the Chinese intellectuals: persistence,
rationality, modesty, fairness, and justice. Those who had contact with him before were all very respectful of his knowledge as well as his moral standing.
Mr.Hu kept his moral standing even within his jail cell. Even though he suffered
unfairly for years, he kept his forgiveness and kindness. When he was misunderstood and hurt by people who are close by such that even an outsider got
angry, he expressed his tolerance to the harm. He suffered such a long
loneliness that friends are worried that he will not came out of jail alive, yet
he keeps his love for live, and continues his study and thinking in his jail cell. Not only has he tried to study the new technology such as computers, but also he invented a new way for Chinese character input in 1999. This type of determination has kept him strong in the desperate darkness. Hu Shigen, just as he described himself, is the gold and diamond stuck in the stone.
Our other awardee is Mr. LIU Xianbin. Born in 1968, when Mr. Liu was arrested for the first time in 1991 he was still a youthful college student. He was
intelligent and handsome, yet was sent to jail for two and half years for his
participation in the 1989 democracy movement. After he served his first jail sentence, he got involved with a list of democracy activities, including the establishment of the Chinese Democracy Party. He investigated and studied social problems, wrote articles about Chinese democracy and human rights, and crafted petition drives calling for democracy in China. In 1999, he was arrested again with a speedy sentence of 13 years handed down in less than one month. Currently serving in a Sichuan jail, Mr. Liu is far away from the political center and lacks much attention. He has been suffering from T.B.without medical care for 5 years.
Just like Mr. Hu Shigen, Mr. Liu Xianbin also sacrificed most of his life for Chinese democracy. Before his arrest, he was outside daily working for his
causes, despite his newly wed wife and newborn child. While his life was in danger, he was also suffering from poverty and illness. Now he has lost his freedom and health altogether.
One of the most shining qualities of Mr. Liu is his braveness in facing the
most difficult time. When he was out of jail for the first time, it was the
low tide of the Chinese democracy movement after June 4 massacre in 1989. People were silenced. Some escaped. Yet, Mr. Liu stood up. When the Chinese pro-
democracy bulletin "Human Rights Watch" was forbidden for publication, he took it
over. When the cruel reality of the suppression of the Chinese Democracy Party
happened at the end of 1998 with several people detained, Mr. Liu got more
involved, and encouraged his comrades without concern of his own safety. He had
never meant to make himself a hero, yet he acted as one, due to his firm belief in Chinese democracy and human rights and his simple, plain, yet persistent
Braveness is the shared quality of both Hu Shigen and Liu Xianbin. Their lives
reflect a scene we have known from Aung San Sue Kyi of Myanmar, the Nobel Peace Prize winner who fought for human rights and democracy in her own country. When the military soldiers pointed guns at her with the threat "we will shoot if you
came one step further", she walked toward them. Today, we can see from both Hu
Shigen and Liu Xianbin, facing life or death, they chose to walk forward. Their
every step is the display of courage, make us learn their strong belief in
democracy for all.
Although their ages are far apart, their footsteps are overlapped together
in a clear display of the continuity of the generations of Chinese who fought for
Chinese democracy and human rights. Because of this continuity, because of the
generations' effort with their lives served as the stepping-stones for
others, we have a wider road of hope for our fellow Chinese people. This road shall connect each individual together, to a destiny of real human rights and democracy. The road is littered with lives and sadness; yet it reveals to us the significance and meaning of our lives. As Joseph Conrad said "...and to the subtle but invincible conviction of solidarity that knits together the loneliness of innumerable hearts, which binds together all humanity -- the dead to the living, the living to the unborn".
Now, darkness still casts over our fellow Chinese. The thirst for religious freedom, a free press, and the very basic protection of human rights is still
out of reach for our Chinese fellows. Those who stand up against dictatorship for our rights, may have to pay the price of their tears and blood, even their freedom and their lives. Yet, in this darkness, there are some tiny candles shining. Hu Shigen and Liu Xianbin are fine representatives of these candles. They burn themselves to provide the light of hope for others. Indeed, "The candle in the darkness is brighter than sunshine."
After careful evaluation, the Wei Jingsheng Foundation decided to award its
first annual "Wei Jingsheng Chinese Democracy Champion Prize" to these two
heroes, to salute their firm belief in Chinese democracy, the courage they have
displayed, and the suffering they bear for the dignity and respect of all the
Chinese. Meanwhile, we also want to take this opportunity to encourage the
international community to pay more attention to Chinese human rights abuses, to
learn of the suffering of our democracy heroes, as well as to provide caring and
help, whenever, whatever. We also hope this $5000.00US prize money will provide some realistic relief for the current difficulties our awardees suffer. Nevertheless, what we hope most is that this recognition will become a moral boost to our fellow devoted Chinese democracy advocates inside China in extremely difficult circumstances.
Hereby, we also want to express our salute to the family members and loved ones of those who are suppressed and jailed for their democracy beliefs and activities. What you have to endure, is also our pain. We are thankful for your
tolerance, and more so for your love without reservation. Your love, which could
provide the warmth to their hearts that no others could, is the important
motivation for your loved ones to survive these most difficult days.
As a larger part of this prize came from the donations of several individuals, the Wei Jingsheng Foundation wants to express our gratitude to our donors and
their confidence in us as well. These donations are not just money, but also
the expression of your confidence, along with your support and participation in
the Chinese democracy progress.
In some way, today is not an average day. For the freedom of our Chinese
fellows, both of our awardees do not have their own freedom to come for their
prizes. Atthis moment, our conscience is moved, our sorrow makes us realize more
the preciousness of freedom and pricelessness of lives.
Let me finish this dedication to Hu Shigen and Liu Xianbin, the winners of the first annual "Wei Jingsheng Chinese Democracy Champion Prize", with two encouragements for us all:
One is from Aung San Sue Kyi. She encourages "not to depend on the courage
and braveness of others, but each of us must be willing to sacrifice for
courage and braveness. Only this way, we can all enjoy the real freedom."
In contrast, the other is from Wei Jingsheng. He said: "Those who are willing to
sacrifice themselves for the majority, always are the extremely few. Yet, these
extremely few, shall be the most respected of all."
We thank you all.
Ciping Huang (signed)
Wei Jingsheng Foundation