Kootenai County Task Force announces Human Rights Banquet speaker

The Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations in cooperation with its sister organization, HREI, today announced the keynote speaker for the 15th annual human rights banquet to be held on April 23 in Coeur d’Alene.

Dr. Jianli Yang, president of the Foundation for China in the 21st Century, will address the topic “A Dissident’s Struggle to Bring Democracy to China”. Yang is recognized as the leading architect and is at the forefront of the “Chinese Democracy Movement”. He is the co-author of a constitution for a democratic China.

Yang, a native of China, was protesting in Tiananmen Square in 1989 when the now infamous massacre took place. His involvement in the uprising put him on a list of 48 leaders banned from China by the Chinese government.

Dr. Yang came to the United States where he earned a Ph.D. degree in mathematics from the University of California, Berkley, and a second Ph.D. from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. He has taught at the University of California, Berkley; University of the Pacific and the University of California at
Santa Cruz.

In 2002 Yang used a friend’s passport to reenter China to report on unfolding labor unrest. He was detained and held by the Chinese authorities for a year, tortured, tried on trumped up charges for spying and sentenced to five years in
prison. Following an international outcry for his release and after being a prisoner for five years, he was released and returned to his adopted United States in 2007.

He has testified before congressional committees in both the United States Senate as well as the U. S. House of Representatives. Frequently consulted by national media for his views on China, Dr. Yang has addressed audiences around the world concerning democracy in China.

Yang was the recipient of the “Outstanding Chinese Student in America Award” in 1990. In 2009 he was elected by the Chinese independent intellectuals as one of the top 100 Chinese Public Intellectuals and he was recognized by Chinese Twitter users as one of the “50 Most Respected Chinese Citizens of 2009”. In mid-March, there were media reports of a power struggle within the Chinese Communist Politburo. Bo Xilai, a member of the Politburo, was removed from his office as the Chinese Communist Party chief of the mega-city Chongqing. Some Chinese watchers have speculated that the struggle could possibly result in a political upheaval similar to the Cultural Revolution that took place under Mao.

 The banquet will also include presentations of this year’s “KCTFHR Civil Rights Award” and the “Bill Wassmuth Memorial Volunteer-of-the-Year Award.”
The banquet profits go to the Human Rights Education Institute to assist in the Institute’s providing four annual minority student scholarships at North Idaho College.

Banquet individual tickets are $40 and banquet tables are $500 and $1,000. Details are available by calling (208) 765-3932. The event will be held at the Best Western Coeur d’Alene Inn with a reception at 5 p.m. and the banquet at 6 p.m.

For More Information
Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations Human Rights Education Institute, Tony Stewart, (208) 765-3932

Posted: Monday, March 19, 2012

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