Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Where is Ai Weiwei?

Have you seen this man?

We all want to know where artist and activist Ai Weiwei is and for him to be released.
It has already been 72 hours since he was detained at Beijing Capital International Airport on Sunday when he tried to board a flight to Hong Kong.
Since then we have not heard where he is. His wife Lu Qing is very concerned. "I am now exceedingly worried, particularly as his physical health is really not good. He has high blood pressure and diabetes," she was quoted as saying.
Technically the Criminal Procedure Law says in most cases police have three days to detain someone before deciding whether to release them or to apply to prosecutors for an arrest warrant. In special cases the authorities have up to seven days and even rarer circumstances up to a month.
It's been three days so what is Ai's status?
Beijing has remained ominously silent despite calls from the United States, France, Germany, Britain, the European Union and Australia, as well as Amnesty International and other human rights groups demanding his release.
As the police searched his home and studio, it seems they are intent on finding something to prosecute Ai with and will probably take the 30 days to find the evidence they want.
This latest development is a sad state of affairs in China -- no make it appalling.
"Ai Weiwei's detention is definitely a turning point in the ongoing crackdown because the arrest of someone of the stature of Ai could only have been carried out with approval of someone in the top leadership," said Nicholas Bequelin from Human Rights Watch in Hong Kong. "It is designed to send a signal that no matter how prominent you are, the police can arrest you at any time they choose."
Well-known painter Chen Danqing, a close friend of Ai's said although the detention was no surprise, it showed the authorities were more brazen in suppressing dissent.
"They were going to do this sooner or later," he said. "But the way they did it was different from before. This shows that they [the government] don't care about their international image anymore."
Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International's director for the Asia-Pacific region said: "Ai Weiwei was not even involved in any call for jasmine protests. There seems to be no reason whatsoever for his detention, other than that the authorities are trying to broadcast the message that China's time for open dissent has come to an end."

Before Ai was detained and during the so-called jasmine protests in China, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said for people who want to make trouble "no law can protect them". The government is now openly saying this as an explicit warning.

People in China are becoming more brave in speaking their thoughts, which is why the government has decided to take a harder line on dissent and using high-profile Ai as an example. The writing was already on the wall with Charter08 and now it has regressed to this.

China needs more brave souls to push back -- if they dare.

1 comment:

  1. ai wei wei has been the sty in the eye of china for a long long time. every and any excuses have been sought to have him arrested.

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