PEN Podcast: David Auburn Reads from “The Courage to Stand Alone” by Wei Jingsheng
After being incarcerated for nearly two decades for his role in the democracy movement in China, Chinese dissident, writer, and human rights activist Wei Jingsheng was released from prison 18 years ago today. In celebration of the anniversary of his release, this week’s podcast features David Auburn reading from Wei’s “The Courage to Stand Alone” at the 2009 Human Rights Book Festival. David Auburn reads from The Courage to Stand Alone by Wei Jingsheng at the 2009 Human Rights Book Fair. Hailing from a household of CPC members, Wei Jingsheng took part in the Cultural Revolution, worked in the countryside, and served in the People’s Liberation Army before returning to Beijing to work as an electrician at the Beijing Zoo. His essay “The Fifth Modernization,” which he posted on Beijing’s Democracy Wall in 1978, caused a sensation, not only because it openly attacked the “people’s democratic dictatorship,” but also because he had signed it and had given his address. His democracy activism earned him two jail sentences, for a total of more than 18 years. The Courage to Stand Alone: Letters from Prison and Other Writings is a compilation of his articles, originally written on toilet paper in jail.