Wei Jingsheng Foundation News and Article Release Issue Number: A230-W120



Release Date: September 23, 2006



Topic: Wei Jingsheng Receives "Stefano Bellaveglia Award" by Fondazione Liberal in Siena University, Siena, Italy



Original Language Version: English (Chinese version at the end)



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Wei Jingsheng Receives "Stefano Bellaveglia Award" by Fondazione Liberal in Siena University, Siena, Italy



On September 22 and 23, 2006, Mr. Wei Jingsheng was in Siena, Italy, to receive the first "Stefano Bellaveglia Award" by Fondazione Liberal, as well as attending an international conference "Cina e Liberta (China and Liberty)" at San Vigilio Universita in Siena, Italy.


The "Stefano Bellaveglia Award" is newly established in the name of Stefano Bellaveglia, a long time international activist of human rights and freedom, who was just passed away a few months ago.


Archbishop of Siena Antonio Buoneristiani, Siena Mayor Maurizio Cenni, Foundation president Gabriello Mancini, and other internationally known scholars and activists attended this conference with title of " World Powers to Human Rights: What the Western World Could Do?". Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun of Hong Kong, the highest rank Chinese named by the Vatican, also attended the conference and received "Siena Liberty Award".


During the events, Mr. Wei Jingsheng received a number of interviews by many news media, including TV, radio, magazines, such as Italian National TV Channel 2, Asia News, Tempi, etc.  These exposures brought Italy to a new level of attention towards Chinese human rights, as well as preventing the lift of the weapon embargo by the European Union. 


The following is Mr. Wei's speech that concludes the end of the two days conference.

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Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for the honor to speak you.  I will take this opportunity to tell everyone a few personal stories.  These stories were very instructive for me, which teach me what is liberty and freedom, as well as the cost of liberty and freedom.


Everyone is discussing freedom.  Philosophers are discussing it, literary scholars are discussing it, and more than a few politicians play with this term too.  But what is freedom really worth to us?  Why do we pay such a high price for freedom? I trust many friends (in the audience) are like me, often asking themselves this sort of question.


I recall when I was still in prison. There was a convict who had previously been a public official who asked me this question.  He said that while he was an official he never realized freedom is so precious.  At that time he was very influential, and of course, because of the habit of corruption in Chinese official circles, he was also very rich.  Many people were deprived of freedom at his hand.  Some were carelessly deprived of freedom without a second thought; he did not think freedom was of any significance.  Even when his own freedom was about to be taken away, he still did not think it was of importance.  So he willingly took on blame for the actions of another, standing in for a greedy official and adding a few extra years to his sentence.  He enjoys hearing praise for his actions.


He knew others had greased the wheels for him at the prison.  The maltreatment received by common prisoners, he did not have to receive.  The punishment received by common prisoners, he did not have to suffer.  The benefits not received by common prisoners, he enjoyed.  Including special treatment not permitted by prison regulations.  But he still felt unhappy, it was a sort of unexplainable unhappiness.  Not only was his heart heavy, his health was also worse than before. He always felt his health and life were lacking something.


I suggested to him that he was probably lacking freedom.  Freedom is something man is born with, like the air we breathe, it is something we should have naturally.  So people do not notice freedom.  Only when people have lost it, and when they feel unhappy, only then do they understand that it is the most precious thing of all.


After a while he came again to ask:  "you were locked in solitary confinement, where freedom is even less than for us here. Why does it seem you do not look that unhappy?  Everyday you seem brimming with happiness."  I said, "In losing my freedom I am as sad as you are.  Then I remember that although I lost my freedom, one billion Chinese will, because of my loss, gain a little more freedom.  This sort of joy overcomes my unhappiness.  He told me that he still did not understand, because other people's freedom certainly could not compensate for the freedom I had lost.  "You still do not have your freedom," he said.


I thought for a minute, and then I told him a story about a police officer and me.  There was an old police officer who saw me in a dark prison cell; aside from reading there was only a five step long cell in which to stroll.  As I strolled I pondered problems, my face lit up with a smile, I looked very relaxed.  He thought it was strange, so he asked me:  "You fought for other's freedom, but now you have lost yours, can it be true that without freedom there is still something worth being happy about?"  I responded in an instant:  "I do not feel I am without freedom.  You tell me, of the two of us, who is more free?"  As soon he heard that he laughed, "I tend the prison, you live in prison, and of course I am more free than you."


I said, "Not necessarily."  When he heard that he started to laugh again; he made me tell him why.  I asked him "I may be locked up in prison, but if I want to say something, I dare to say it, do you dare?"  He stood there stupefied, giving no response.  At that time I suddenly realized a principle: a person's foremost freedom is inner freedom.   A body without freedom can be due to the others, but freedom of the spirit is something others cannot deprive you of.  But a weak temperament often leads us to deprive ourselves of that inner freedom.  We lock ourselves up in an inner prison of the spirit.


This especially happens under tyrannical rule or when tempted by enormous gain.  People often suppress their own conscience to adapt to tyrannical rule or to meet the needs of their selfish interests.  To go and do things against ones convictions, even to the point of helping a tyrannical government deprive countless people of their freedom.  At the same time there are also some other people, who for their own and everyone's liberty go and resist the tyrannical government.  Thus freedom becomes political.  Depriving freedom and fighting for freedom have become the main themes of politics.  Thousands and thousands of people have, in fighting for their own and others' freedom, lost their lives or their freedom to tyranny.  Prisons have many of a new kind of prisoner, called as political prisoners.  Political prisoners are by-products of tyrannical and corrupt governments.


What is a political prisoner?  I have heard many definitions.  I always feel they are not quite right.  While in prison I encountered a prisoner.  He came from a mountainous region.  He could not read and had committed a very disgraceful crime.  He was sent by the prison officials to watch over the political prisoners.  On one occasion he felt wronged and came and found me to complain, he blurted out: "We are not like you political prisoners, even the police respect you."  I was amazed at what he said, so I asked him "Do you understand what a political prisoner is?  Tell me what a political prisoner is."  He said:  "Of course I understand.  We criminals have harmed others for our own benefit; you political prisoners have harmed yourselves for the benefit of others."


This is the simplest and most precise definition I have heard.  Over the last several thousand years, humanity has been able to resist evil powers and tyranny because there is a group of this sort of people, people who will sacrifice themselves for others benefit and freedom.  Under tyrannical rule, these saints and martyrs sacrificed themselves or become political prisoners, so that others may gain freedom.  Under a free system they would not become political prisoners, but they still would sacrifice their own gains solely to benefit others.


Without this group of people, our freedom would be less than it is today.  With this group of people working, this world's tyranny and suffering will be reduced.  The friends present are all working to increase freedom in the world and to reduce the suffering of humanity and in doing paying a greater or lesser price for it.  Thank you everyone.  We will work hard together, without ceasing.


Thank you.


-- Wei, Jingsheng

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Related websites:

Fondazione Liberal: www.liberalfondazione.it

Italian Asia news: www.asianews.it

Italian National TV channel 2: www.rai.it

Italian Tempi weekly magazine:www.tempi.it


Related photos:

1. Mr. Wei Jingsheng receives "Premio Stefano Bellaveglia":


2. Mr. Wei Jingsheng delivers award speech:


3. Mr. Wei Jingsheng receives enthusiastic applauses:


4. The hosts and lecturers:


5. Responding to these who sacrifice themselves for the others in Wei's speech, the nun said: "Jesus Christ is such a person."


6. Joseph Cardinal Zen Ze-kiun of Hong Kong with WEI Jingsheng and HUANG Ciping:




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Wei Jingsheng Foundation News and Article Release Issue Number: A230-W120



Release Date: September 23, 2006



Topic: Wei Jingsheng Receives "Stefano Bellaveglia Award" by Fondazione Liberal in Siena University, Siena, Italy



Original Language Version: English (Chinese version at the end)











2006年9月22日与23日,魏京生先生在意大利的锡耶那大学参加国际性“中国与自由”研讨会,并接受主办单位自由基金会的首次“斯蒂法诺贝拉瓦格利亚奖”。 “斯蒂法诺贝拉瓦格利亚奖”的设立是对几个月前才去世的斯蒂法诺贝拉瓦格利亚先生的纪念。斯蒂法诺贝拉瓦格利亚先生是一位关心自由与人权的国际活动家。


锡耶那区付主教Antonio Buoneristiani,锡耶那市市长Maurizio Cenni及多位国际名流参加主持了这个以“世界强权对人权:西方世界可以做什么?”为专题的研讨会。来自香港的陈日君大主教也到临并接受“锡耶那自由奖”。





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-- 魏京生 2006年9月23日


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1. 魏京生先生接受“斯蒂法诺贝拉瓦格利亚奖”:


2. 魏京生先生致谢词:


3. 魏京生先生受到听众的热烈鼓掌:


4. 主办人及主讲人欢迎并感谢魏京生先生:


5. 天主教修女针对魏京生先生讲演中提到那些为社会大众作牺牲的人说:“耶稣基督就是这样一个人”:


6. 香港陈日君主教与魏京生、黄慈萍合影:











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