Harry Wu (born 1937; Chinese: 吳弘達, Wu Hongda) is an activist for human rights in the People's Republic of China. Now a resident and citizen of the United States, Wu spent 19 years in Chinese labor camps. In 1992, he founded the Laogai Research Foundation, popularising the term Laogai. In 1996 the Columbia Human Rights Law Review awarded Wu its second Award for Leadership in Human Rights.
Wu was born in Shanghai. He came from a wealthy family; his father was a banker, and his mother was descended from landlords. He recalls his childhood as being one of "peace and pleasure" but these fortunes changed after the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949: "During my teen-age years, my father lost all his properties. We had money problems. The government took over all the property in the country. We even had to sell my piano."
Wu studied at the Geology Institute in Beijing, where he was first arrested in 1956 for criticizing the Communist Party during the brief period of liberalization in China known as the Hundred Flowers Campaign. He has also claimed that he protested the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956. In 1960 he was sent to the laogai ("reform through labor"), the Chinese labor camp system, as a "counterrevolutionary rightist." He was imprisoned for 19 years in 12 different camps mining coal, building roads, clearing land, and planting and harvesting crops. According to his own accounts, he was beaten, tortured and nearly starved to death, and witnessed the deaths of many other prisoners from brutality, starvation, and suicide.