September 6, 2019

Chinese rights activist to speak at Purdue as part of Giant Leaps Series

Chen event

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Chen Guangcheng, a Chinese civil rights activist and self-taught lawyer, will share his insights about the negative impact of artificial intelligence technologies on human rights during a Giant Leaps Series event Sept. 17 at Purdue University.

 “Artificial Intelligence and Freedom: Could the Barefoot Lawyer Have Escaped in 2019?” is 7-8 p.m. in Wetherill Laboratory of Chemistry, Room 104. Chen will present his views on “How the Chinese Communist Party has Kidnapped China and is Disrupting the World.” A Q&A will follow the talk. Sponsored by the colleges of Engineering and Liberal Arts, the event is free and open to the public, but tickets are required and are available online. This is one of many events celebrating Purdue’s sesquicentennial, 150 Years of Giant Leaps. This yearlong celebration is highlighting Purdue’s remarkable history of giant leaps, while focusing on what giant leaps Purdue can take to address the world’s problems.

Working in rural communities in China, Chen advocated for the rights of the poor, disabled and persecuted. Blind from infancy and known as the “barefoot lawyer,” Chen has written his memoir, “The Barefoot Lawyer: A Blind Man’s Fight for Justice and Freedom in China.” The book was released by Henry Holt Publishers in 2015 and has since been translated into eight languages worldwide.

Chen Guangcheng Chen Guangcheng (Courtesy photo)
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His work drew the ire of the authorities, leading to over seven years of harassment including
repeated house arrests, secret detention and over four years in prison. On April 20, 2012, he made a dramatic escape from 20 months of brutal house arrest, catching the attention of international media.
The U.S. embassy in Beijing secured his temporary safety before high-level diplomatic negotiations enabled his exodus to the United States.

Since beginning his advocacy work, Chen has been the recipient of numerous awards including Time magazine 100 Most Influential List in 2006, The Ramon Magsaysay Award in 2007, the Lantos Human Rights Prize in 2012, the UK Parliament’s Westminster Award in 2013, and the Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy Courage Award in 2014.

Chen is a frequent media commentator as well as guest speaker at conferences and events around the world. He has established a non-profit foundation to further human rights in China, and serves as visiting fellow at the Catholic University of America, distinguished senior fellow in Human Rights at the Witherspoon Institute, and senior distinguished advisor to the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice. 

Media contact: Amy Patterson Neubert, 765-494-9723,  

Source: Stephanie McKinley, events specialist, College of Engineering, 765 494-5178;

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