Wei Jingsheng Foundation News and Article Release Issue: A316-W170



Release Date: December 5, 2007



Topic: Courage of Love, Flames of Conscience (Prize Dedication to Zhang Lin and Yan Zhengxue as Awardees of the Fourth Annual "Wei Jingsheng Chinese Democracy Champion Prize" by the Wei Jingsheng Foundation)

标题:爱的勇气,良知的光焰 (魏京生基金会第四届"魏京生中国民主斗士奖"对张林、严正学的颁奖词)


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



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Courage of Love, Flames of Conscience

-- Prize Dedication to Zhang Lin and Yan Zhengxue as Awardees of the Fourth Annual "Wei Jingsheng Chinese Democracy Champion Prize" by the Wei Jingsheng Foundation


December 5, 2007



A few days ago, one of my friends who just came back from a trip to China told me: "Nowadays, China has become like a place for fulfilling desires. Everyone is working themselves to death in the quest for wealth."


China is sick. This sickness causes polluted air, stinky rivers; this sickness creates "Cancer villages" and "AIDS villages" where the villages are disappearing and the farmers are dying without being noticed; this sickness causes mines to collapse and bury workers on the site; this sickness has broken down trust in society due to millions of fake and dangerous merchandise; this sickness has enlarged the gap between the rich and the poor, with a few rich people living a rotten and corrupted life while the majority of the common people suffer more and more; this sickness has also kept people quiet out of fear with a numbed spirit...the people of this sick country are facing a bowl of magic evil soup, a soup of forgetfulness and numbness. If one drinks from it one will fall into the abyss of suffering, be crushed without even realizing it.


It is the "autocracy disease," China has had it now for more than half a century. It is an incurable disease in its last dying stage. The dictators are at once elated with their creation, and yet also secretly speeding up the persecution, in order to silence the brave voices and snuff out the kind hearts. They hope one day to smile like a rattlesnake, watching Chinese people rush into worldly desires like innocent kids. They hope morality will be swept into the trash pile and what will remain in China are either lucky good-for-nothings, or dead-seeming, hardly-breathing common people who are pressed into a tiny place. Thus the Chinese autocratic system can keep its rock-like grip on power forever.


In this persecution, the prisons in China are like an invisible crematorium, trying to burn up and destroy the democratic spirit in China. It threatens more people hoping they will flinch in front of the door of democracy. This kind of fear has been seen before. In the last century, many brave and righteous people were killed in Nazi or Neo-Nazi concentration camps. They made French Republicans become so reluctant and filled with dread even though they had been very independent thinkers with a great spirit of criticism. In China, we know that "implicate nine generations" and "exterminate the whole family and confiscate all the property" of the Chinese history was so cruel that it silenced Chinese intellectuals, who once valued one's spirit more than life; and for generations used bold and unrestrained voices to advocate good causes and noble character.  


However, I know, I believe, and I always trust that there is a kind of hero who can stand up firmly, using his own blood and flesh to stop the destruction of the soul of the nation, against the dictators annihilation of the democratic spirit. Such heroes exist like stubborn green plants in the sandy, dry, deadly desert that is full of lust. The number of these heroes is not as large as we wish, but their existence is like a large bell tolling all the time and reminding us: if we live like them we can avoid being a prisoner in spirit with the soul-handcuffed.


Today, it is once again December 5. On this day of every year it is the time to announce the winners of the annual "Wei Jingsheng Chinese Democracy Champion Prize". In the past three years, we presented the prize to Hu Shigen and Liu Xianbin as the first annual prize winners in 2004; Yu Dongyue, Wu Yilong and Chen Xi as the second annual prize winners in 2005, and Guo Feixiong, Zhou Zhirong and Lin Mu as the third annual prize winners in 2006. Among those winners of the Chinese Democracy Champion Prize, some is already deceased, some have been driven insane, some are still suffering inhuman torment in prison, and some are in society fighting the cruel and turbulent situation, facing danger every day. They are the glory and pride of our nation. The awards they received have encouraged more brave and clear-minded people, waves upon waves of people, to join the ranks of those advocating democracy.


Today is the day for the fourth annual award announcement. As usual, it is the time for us to show our admiration, respect, and appreciation to these people who sacrificed for Chinese democracy, an opportunity for us to provide limited monetary help to those people who are suffering in a difficult situation, and also a chance to comfort and show our gratitude to their family members, relatives and friends who are all persecuted together.


The prizewinners this year are Zhang Lin and Yan Zhengxue.


Forty-five year old Zhang Lin is from Bengbu of Anhui province. He once studied at QingHua University, but now is in prison. When Zhang Lin was as a college student, he was influenced by the 1978 Democracy Wall Movement, and thus accepted the idea of democracy and human rights and became a steadfast democracy fighter since then. For the past 20 years, he has been always adamant and indomitable. He was detained and imprisoned many times by the Chinese government and has been sent to jail four times and spent a total of 13 years in prison.


Mr. Zhang Lin participated in the 1989 Democracy Movement in China and was a key person to establish and coordinate many student and worker organizations in Anhui province. He was arrested by the government and charged with "propagandizing and inciting counter-revolution" and was imprisoned for that. After he was released he continued to participate in the democracy movement, helping to establish several underground democratic organizations, and was the chief coordinator for "China Workers Rights Defense Alliance" lead by Liu NianChun of Beijing. For this, he was arrested again and sentenced to three years of "Re-Education through Labor" without trial.


In 1997, after being released from prison, Zhang Lin obtained a visa to travel to the United States. When he arrived in the U.S. he immediately started to work for the Wei Jingsheng Foundation and provided a lot of help. He could stay in the United States and enjoy freedom and a better life, but he decided to go back to Mainland China in order to help the Chinese democracy movement in the most effective way. Unfortunately, his secret return failed, and he was arrested again for the third time and was put in prison for three years.


After his release in 2001, Mr. Zhang Lin was already a middle-aged man, poor with nothing left. Moreover, as one of the people at the top of the government's blacklist, his actions and words were highly monitored. But he never changed his determination to push for democracy in China. He then chose the path of independent writing, as a way to inspire democracy. In a few years he had published hundreds of articles and commentaries that attacked government policy and spread democratic ideals. Meanwhile, he endured many difficulties in doing foundational organizational work for the future movements. In 2005 he was once again arrested while traveling to participate in Mr. Zhao ZiYang's funeral in Beijing. He was sentenced to five years. That year, he was on hunger strike for almost 50 days in prison as a protest of the Chinese government's inhuman violence.


I need to point out that during the year before Mr. Zhang Lin's sentencing, he contributed greatly to encouraging workers' rights movements, to help workers to defend their own rights and to protect themselves in the best way. Through Zhang Lin's effort, information about Chinese workers and rights defending effort in Mainland China was passed to the Wei Jingsheng Foundation and then to the whole world.


Mr. Yan Zhengxue was born in 1944 in Taizhou of Zhejiang province. He is not just an artist, writer, and artist-in-action, but also a long-term advocate of democracy. He moved into Beijing's Yuanmingyuan artist village in 1989, and was chosen as the head of the village. In 1993 he sued the Beijing police department for its crackdown of people's artistic freedom, violation of human rights etc. As a result, he was thrown in prison in 1994. Two years later, after he was released, he held "Yan Zhengxue Prison Art Work Show", as a way to denounce the government's inhuman conduct. Because of his persistence in his special "action art"-- the civilian-suit-against-government, he has been sued by more than a dozen government departments, such as Beijing Reform-Through-Labor Department. In June of 1999, he was arrested due to a lawful demonstration in which he gave a speech to the public to call for a petition and signatures against corruption.


In 2001, Mr. Yan Zhengxue's brave action of suing the government as a social evil was widely reported by world media. He then was called "The first person to sue in China for the public good" and became one of the most famous artists-in-action in Mainland China.


Yan Zhengxue was invited to hold a "Yan Zhengxue Prison Art Work Show" in New York, United States in 2003. He stayed in New York City to continue his artistic and democracy movement work. Half a year later, he voluntarily went back to China in order to protest the oppression and harassment of artists by the Zhejiang, Taizhou government and legal system. He led an open letter to Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao, to appeal for abolishing "Re-Education-through-labor". He also came to defend the 1989 Democracy Movement, and "use artistic action to prove this world, in an effort to mold an eternal monument within the spirit of our nation." (Quoted from Yan Zhengxue's own words.)


Mr. Yan Zhengxue's persistence in the democracy movement has earned him great respect. For more than 10 years, he has used "action art" as a powerful weapon to promote democratic ideas, to resist an inhuman government, and to protect the justice of art. He has helped people to sue the government more than 40 times and has defended disadvantaged groups more than 100 times. Because of this he has lost his basic rights and was harassed and oppressed many times; beating, intimidation, and even attempted murder by automobile "accident." He has been arrested as many as 13 times. In 2007, he was sentenced to three years for "inciting to overturn the government".


Both Zhang Lin and Yan Zhengxue have many moving characteristics. First, they are both tough guys, indomitable despite suppression. Mr. Zhang has faced imprisonment four times and Mr. Yan has been arrested 13 times. But it never shakes their determination for democracy in China. Of Mr. Zhang Lin's adulthood, more than half of his life has been spent in the dark cells of prisons. But whenever he is free, he has always immediately started taking action for democracy without hesitation. Similar to Mr. Zhang Lin, Mr. Yan Zhengxue also has amazing qualities as a democracy advocate. In people's minds artists are sensitive, weak and simple, yet this artist Yan Zhengxue can be persistent and strong. Despite being tailed, plotted against, electric shocked and beaten up, or under arrest or locked in prison, even facing possible death, he never lowers his voice of protest. Mr. Zhang Lin and Mr. Yan Zhengxue, as brave Intellectuals in China, without fear they have faced the bloody battle and have written a glorious page in the history of Chinese democracy.


The second moving characteristics about both Zhang and Yan are their courage of love and flame of conscience. They pursue democracy and gave up the freedom of living aboard. They voluntarily went back to China and devoted themselves to fighting on the frontier of the Chinese democracy movement. Their choice is from study and independent thinking for many years, as well as from their sympathy towards the pitiful common people. Needless to say, love of the common people and one's own conscience are the pilot in the modern soul-maze. The actions done by Mr. Zhang and Mr. Yan show us the meaning of bravery, determination, and rational thinking. These valuable characteristics are based on a love of China and the Chinese people and based on the essential maintenance of one's conscience, especially amidst chaos and difficulties. We think love toward the common people is not just an emotion; it is a principle of how to live. It is the root source that gives us courage to endure the pressure of the seemingly strong dictatorship. With this love, one can give up love of self, and give up desire for fame and money; then one can have a strong will to sacrifice oneself for Chinese democracy.


Everyday we face a choice. There are three kinds of choices. The first one is the choice we have to make under political pressure. This kind of choice is regrettable, but we cannot blame it too much since we cannot ask everyone to become a martyr. In the second case, people have a certain freedom to make a choice using one's own will. In this case, conscience and love can guide people to make a correct and positive selection. As Alexander Solzhenitsyn said: one with conscience can at least do one thing, that is, keep silent, do not add to the flame of the evil fire. However, in the third case, the situation becomes very uneasy, under the threat of tyranny, under the pressure of possible loss of freedom even life, without being understood and being recognized. It is the time of silent sacrifices, like true gold that proves its worth when thrown in the hottest fire. It is the choice that is highly praised and remembered. It is as if a light of conscience, a flame of love, brings the courage and sets the example. Mr. Zhang Lin and Mr. Yan Zhengxue are this kind of flame. Today, we give them this award in order to remember it, to grow it, and to encourage more people to become this kind of flame so that the torch of democracy will grow into a great fire to burn out the root of autocracy.


We choose to announce the Wei Jingsheng Chinese Democracy Champion Prize on December 5 in commemoration of what happened 29 years ago. On December 5 of 1978, Mr. Wei Jingsheng posted his "The Fifth Modernization -- Democracy" on Xidan Democracy Wall and rang the bell for the era of modern Chinese democracy. For this deed he paid the heavy price of youth and health, as well as freedom - for 18 long years of prison time. Every year on this day we recall this deed and memorialize all heroes on the path of Chinese democracy since then. We are glad to see this kind of hero emerge so frequently, one after another. We see that more and more democracy fighters would rather die for freedom than live silently enduring injustice. More and more brave people use their intelligence and determined spirit to fight the autocracy. It is gratifying to see.


We are gratified; yet, we are also sad and sorrowful. Although we enjoy freedom at this moment, many democracy advocates are in prison, being tortured and devastated. The darkness, loneliness, and cruelty are not imaginable. The tears that their beloved ones shed, the pain that their relatives suffer, are not something we can fully realize. The word "sacrifice" is so cold and shocking in this chilly winter. We hope that the Fourth Annual "Wei Jingsheng Chinese Democracy Champion Prize" can express our respect, admiration, support, and appreciation to those heroes, and also express our appreciation and concern for their suffering family members.


The sky of December is clear, grim, and cold. It indicates the coming of a severe winter. But, it also tells us "if winter is here, spring cannot be far behind." During this season, one appreciates all the more the warmth of the fireplace on a cold snowy day; for the flames of conscience shall continue burning lively, the flame never extinguished. We believe that the fire of Chinese democracy, like the fire of a live volcano, can never be stopped by either snow or storm, and will eventually bring a beautiful democracy sky!


Thank you very much for listening.


Ciping HUANG (signed)

Executive Director

Wei Jingsheng Foundation



Wei Jingsheng Foundation fourth annual "Wei Jingsheng Democracy Champion Prize" award announcement by its judging committee:



For further information and detail, visit our website at: www.weijingsheng.org

or contact us at HCP@weijingsheng.org or HCP0411WJS@aol.com or call 1-202-543-1538.


(The Wei Jingsheng Foundation is grateful to Yike CHENG for her great contribution of composing this dedication, and for her long time voluntary work and other contributions to this Foundation.)



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Wei Jingsheng Foundation News and Article Release Issue: A316-W170



Release Date: December 5, 2007



Topic: Courage of Love, Flames of Conscience (Prize Dedication to Zhang Lin and Yan Zhengxue as Awardees of the Fourth Annual "Wei Jingsheng Chinese Democracy Champion Prize" by the Wei Jingsheng Foundation)

标题:爱的勇气,良知的光焰 (魏京生基金会第四届"魏京生中国民主斗士奖"对张林、严正学的颁奖词)


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









-- 魏京生基金会第四届"魏京生中国民主斗士奖"对张林、严正学的颁奖词









在这样的迫害里,中国的监狱如同一座看不见的焚尸炉,试图烧化、歼灭中国的民主精神。它恐吓着更多的人,以期大家在民主的大门前望而却步。望而却步的例子,历史上并不是没有过。上个世纪,许多正直勇敢的人们都在纳粹或新纳粹的集中营里一命归西。连最富有想像力、最具有批判精神的法国共和主义者,也因此普遍产生了忌讳和恐惧。 中国株连九族、满门抄斩的历史,也曾经让历代崇尚高风亮节、把精神看得比生命更崇高的中国文人,从此改变了他们豪放、有血性的声调。


































每年的颁奖日选在十二月五日,是为了纪念二十九年前发生的事情。 1978年的今天,魏京生先生在西单民主墙发布了划时代的"第五个现代化-民主",敲响了中国现代民主的钟声。为此,他以自己青春、健康和自由的巨大代价,在牢狱里度过了十八个春秋。每年这个时候,我们都缅怀这个历史钟声,回顾和纪念从那以后在中国民主道路上前赴后继的勇士们。令人欣慰的是,这样的勇士层出不穷。我们看到,一批又一批的优秀民主人士,宁可疾呼而死,不肯沉默而生。一批又一批勇敢斗士,坚强不屈,顶天立地,他们正用自己智慧的头脑和血肉之躯,和专制政权进行有力的抗争。这是非常让人欣慰的!










黄慈萍 (签署)








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