Tribute to Harry Wu
By: Chen Duanzhao
Fifty-nine years ago since the “Anti-Rightist Movement,” a commemoration was held in the United States. At that conference in 2007 I met my old friend,my “brother” Wu Hongda (Harry Wu) after an absence of thirty-eight years. It was at that “Anti-Rightise 50 anniversary commemorative event”, we shared our life experiences during our time apart. Looking back, I did not think this was actually a farewell meeting! Harry is now gone. I am infinitely wistful.
I still remember in 1954, I was studying at Beijing Normal University and he was at Beijing Geology Institute. We met playing baseball in the parks of Beijing, two energetic young people laughing and talking about ideals. In that year our minds were so simple.
Three years later in 1957, we both succumbed to unfortunate circumstances out of our control. Our respective schools classified us as “bourgeois rightists.” We would later be sentenced to punishment through labor, and then reeducation through labor, the path laid out by the Chinese Communist Party.
In 1962, we met again at Tuanhe Fram，a labor camp in the south of Beijing, becoming “brothers-in-suffering.” It was a dramatic meeting. When our eyes met we simultaneously resounded, “You!” Together we accepted the thought reform of the Communist Party—“LaoJiao! Bring us labor, starve us, torture us while brainwashing us!”
Wu was very clever and competent. In the camp he looked thin but worked hard, his optimistic spirit kept him in good health. Even in that dangerous environment, he won the praise of the third-level farm workers (the harder one worked, the more food one would receive). His experience in the rural fields during his university years proved beneficial. In October 1969, Wu’s prison sentence was lifted; he was sent to Wang Zhuang Coal Mine in ShanXi Province. This so call "forced job placement",he was there for ten years.
I knew Harry Wu,my brother very well. He had the moral qualities of a youthful intellectual. He was decent, outspoken, smart and capable，he is a straightforward person,but sense of obligation to a friend,bear whatever risk of pain.
I knew him when he was barely twenty-three years old. I had never heard he has any immoral behavior and never seen he has any indecent actions. In the 1950’s, the Communist Party built their party on a platform of “liberation”, defining a new culture. If there was bad behavior, students in the Party were unable to leave; the school administration machinery nor the Party would let them escape.
I have recently heard after his death,some people have spread rumors about him, slandered, vilified him, and sullied his name. These people are despicable! Whether by their own volition or a directive from their employers, the perpetrators have degraded their conscious.
For us who have lived to a ripe old age, the vicissitudes continue and obscenities have been heard for decades. People do not dare to stand up anymore. I’m optimistic that, in the end, there will be justice.
Rest in peace Harry.
The article was translated from the original Chinese written by a friend of Harry Wu and former political prisoner Chen Duanzhao.