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Roots of Dui Hua

These stories explore Executive Director John Kamm’s advocacy work prior to and since Dui Hua’s establishment in 1999.

The Banquet (Part 1 of 2)

In the late Spring of 1990, my family and I lived in an apartment on Hong Kong’s Victoria Peak that looked over a verdant country park to the South China Sea on the near horizon.

Lansing and the Sanming Eight

In 2017, there were more than 200 sister city and state relationships between the United States and China, ties that bind states and cities.

A Prison for Foreigners (Part 2 of 2)

As we approached Cell Block Nine, Warden Li informed me that this block was used to house Hong Kong and Macau prisoners.

A Prison for Foreigners (Part 1 of 2)

As 2002 drew to a close, I travelled to Beijing again to make the final arrangements for the release of Ngawang Sangdrol. It had been a busy year…

Enemy of Dialogue (Part 2 of 2)

I returned to Beijing on June 28, 2005. Shortly before arriving, I phoned a junior official at the MOJ and was told that everyone was too busy to see me…

Enemy of Dialogue (Part 1 of 2)

In the Spring of 2004, I was asked by a librarian at a center in Hong Kong to help on a case of endangering state security. This center had on its shelves many valuable volumes…

Discovering Legal Education (Part 2 of 2)

On November 12, 2003, I received a detailed response from my interlocutor. It confirmed much of what I had been told by Congressman Tierney, but added new details.

Discovering Legal Education (Part 1 of 2)

Following the Taiwan Straits crisis of 1995, the Chinese government stopped giving me information on political prisoners. I asked several American senators and members of Congress to write letters to the Chinese government…


At a meeting in April 1992, with the Prison Administration Bureau, I was given the green light to ask about any prisoner incarcerated in one of the approximately 700 prisons and 300 reform-through-labor camps.

City of the Doomed Part 2

We left the cell block and walked a few yards to a recently constructed prefab unit where, I was told, female artistic performers were held. There were 33 females in this “special unit.” I was led into the cell block.

City of the Doomed Part 1

Tilanqiao Prison in Shanghai is one of the oldest operating prisons in the world. Constructed in 1903, occupied in 1906, it has gone by many names.

“The Locust Man”

In China, prisoners serving sentences for counterrevolution and endangering state security who commit political crimes while behind bars make up a special group of political prisoners. They are treated especially harshly.

The Singing Nuns of Drapchi

In 2002, Ngawang Sangdrol, a Tibetan nun who was put in prison at the age of 13 for counterrevolutionary propaganda and incitement was released from prison.

Special Prisoner 01

In 1993, Kamm intervened on behalf of veteran Democracy Wall Movement activist Xu Wenli, otherwise known by Chinese authorities as “Special Prisoner 01”. His release was a high priority for the US and human rights groups.

To Lhasa for Jigme Sangpo

In this debut of John Kamm Remembers, Kamm tells the story of his visit to Lhasa in 2002 to help arrange the release of the longest serving Tibetan political prisoner Jigme Sangpo.

A Victory for Rights Diplomacy

On September 23, 1993, journalist Xi Yang, a reporter for the Hong Kong daily Ming Pao was detained on suspicion of “stealing state secrets”.

A Prison Without Walls

In 1993, Wang Xizhe, a leader of the Democracy Wall movement was released from prison.

Clemency for Bai Weiji

In 1992, Kamm intervened on behalf of a Ministry of Foreign Affairs official detained by China’s state security police on suspicion of trafficking in state secrets…

Cousin Orrin

In October 1997, American businessman and human rights activist John Kamm flew to Hong Kong to start a two-week trip that would also take him to Dalian and Beijing…

The Bell Tolls for Zhu Jianbin

In the early 1990’s, Kamm read about Democracy Wall activist Zhu Jianbin in an article by Nicholas Kristof, who wrote “[Zhu’s] very existence has been virtually obliterated”…

Clemency for Counterrevolutionaries?

After China eliminated the crime of counterrevolution in 1997, Kamm presented a clemency proposal for counterrevolutionaries to the Clinton administration for delivery to the Chinese government…

Kamm Visits a Chinese Prison Part 2

Kamm and his hosts left Meizhou Airport and headed directly to the prison in the center of Meixian Municipality. Founded in 1951, Meizhou Prison was built on the site of a former Guomindang detention facility…

Kamm Visits a Chinese Prison Part 1

The early trips businessman John Kamm made to Beijing to engage Chinese officials on human rights were hosted by the Chinese Council for the Promotion of International Trade…

Executions of Hong Kong Residents Spur Interest in Human Rights

China’s first Strike Hard Campaign was launched in August 1983, and offenders were dealt with harshly. It was recently revealed in a Mainland Chinese publication that there were 24,000 executions in China in 1983…

I Guess You’d Call it a Miracle

In early 1991, after stepping down as president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, John Kamm began working to help political prisoners in China, starting with several visits to Guangzhou…

Mining the Headlines

In April 1992, private businessman John Kamm was granted a meeting with Vice Minister of Justice Jin Jian and Prison Administration Bureau Director Wang Mingdi…

The Last Tiananmen Trial

The Chinese government, desperate to save its access to the American market, gave Kamm high-level access to air his appeals on behalf of political prisoners in the early 1990’s…

Ten Names, One List

American businessman John Kamm, by 1999 the Executive Director of The Dui Hua Foundation, stepped up his efforts to engage the Chinese government in a dialogue on human rights…

China Frees Catholics for Olympics, MFN

By late 1991, John Kamm was increasingly seen as a middleman in securing the release of Chinese prisoners of conscience…

Releasing People … Is No Big Deal

Of Kamm’s many meetings during the early 1990s, none was more important than the meeting with Communist Party of China Politburo Standing Committee member Li Ruihuan on November 25, 1991…

You’re on a Businessman’s List

In February 1995, American businessman John Kamm traveled to Beijing to review progress of his effort to systematically obtain information on people imprisoned for counterrevolutionary crimes…

Early Release of June 4 Protesters

When Kamm visited Qingdao in March 1999, the city was reeling from the Asian financial crisis…

Kamm Meets “China’s 007”

In the summer of 1992, Kamm received a request to intervene on behalf of Hong Kong businessman Chong Kwee-sung. Chong, an American green card holder, was taken into custody at the border crossing between Hong Kong and mainland China…