Resources for Teachers and Students
Prepare: Wei Jingsheng, a Chinese dissident, has
been jailed twice, for a total of 18 years, because of his
pro-democracy activities. His biography
can be found in English on his foundation's website.
Wei Jingsheng wrote an
original essay for the Architects of Peace project.
In it, he explains the obstacles confronting the democracy
movement in China.
Explore: The Institute of International Studies
of The University of California, Berkeley, produces an ongoing
series of interviews called "Conversations with History."
One of these conversations, conducted by the institute's
executive director, Harry Kreisler, features Wei
Jingsheng. It can be viewed online in streaming
video, or as text.
Write: In his Architects Peace essay, Wei Jingsheng
claims that all people "dream of freedom in the same
way." If this is true, what accounts for the fact that
billions of people worldwide currently live in societies
that are not considered free? Asking the question differently,
what elements are necessary in a society to establish and
maintain freedom? Is a democratic society necessarily a
free society? Write a two-to-three page reflection on what
makes society free, and on the relationship between freedom
Extend: More than a decade after the pro-democracy
demonstrations in Tiananmen Square, many of the student
demonstrators arrested in the crackdowns seem to be "lost"
in Chinese prisons, most without having been charged with
crimes or tried in court. Amnesty International lists more
than 200 people who are still imprisoned for having participated
in the protests, and they think that this only represents
a fraction of the dissidents still imprisoned. Those interested
can find more
information on this situation, or take action in
concert with Amnesty International's members.
Additional Resource: A translation of Wei Jingsheng's
most famous essay, "The Fifth Modernization,"
can be found on the Jingsheng
Biography of Wei