WEI JINGSHENG ZHOU GUOQIANG
WEI Jingsheng was the European Lawyers Union Human Rights Laureate in 1998. He is a lawyer, poet and labor activist and is a real veteran of the Chinese democracy movement. Wei Jingsheng was involved in the famous 1979 Democracy Wall Movement; he was a signatory of the 1993 Peace Charter and one of the creators of the League for the Protection of the Rights of Working People.
In 1983, he was employed at the BAI HUA Acoustic Equipment Factory in BEIJING. At the same time, he studied law at the Open University Law Department and after his graduation in law, was promoted to the position of legal advisor at the factory. In 1989, he was active in helping to set up the Beijing Autonomous Workers Federation (BWAF) to fight against the embrigadement of workers in the setting up of the governmental organization the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU).
During the spring of BEIJING, Zhou was the head of a workers strike to protest the June Fourth crackdown after the well-known crackdown in 1989 - the Tienanmen Square Democracy Movement. He was arrested for the first time in July 1989, at the time of the big repression that followed the Tienanmen massacre under the indictment of revolutionary propaganda and instigation to the strike, he was finally released on January 10th 1990 after spending seven months in jail. He was arrested again, on April 10, 1993, for having offered legal services to the taxi drivers of Beijing who staged a city-wide strike against unfair levies that were imposed by the government without warning.
On the lst of May 1993, he was arrested again and temporarily detained. In late 1993, Zhou participated in the drafting of the Peace Charter, which called for actions to solve rising social tensions. The same year, he helped to create League for the Protection of the rights of working people. Arrested on 3 March 1994, with his wife Wang Hui and two friends, Wang Jaqi and Yuan Hongbing by the Beijing Public Security Bureau alledgly for an investigation into his anti-government activities, he was held in incommunicado detention for 7 months.
In September 1994, he was sentenced, without trial or judgment, by administrative decree to three years of Re-education through Labour (RTL)- the maximum allowed for the punishment. An additionnal year was added to his term for an alleged escape attempt in 1995. He appealed many times to get his sentence revoked through the legal appeal process without success.
Zhou was released on Tuesday 20 January 1998 after spending nearly 4 years in re-education through labour camp. Although free, his house remained under constant survelliance and he faced ongoing persecutions and personnal harassment by the Chinese authorities. Beyond his vocation which is to defend human beings, Zhou is also a poet. Under the pen-name of AQUQUIANGBA, he wrote and published poetry and helped gain recognition for a number of underground poets at the same time. His last book of poetry published in 1988 was forbidden after the Tienanmen crackdown in 1989.
His candidacy to the Prize had been presented by Human Rights in China (New York), China Labour Bulletin (Hong Kong) and Amnesty International.
by European Lawyers Union
Human Rights Laureate 1998