a tale of a few cities

China’s detention of artist Ai Weiwei

Posted in China, Reportage by petercombe on April 6, 2011

Fears for the safety of Ai Weiwei, one of China’s best-known artists are growing amid international condemnation of his extra-legal disappearance at the hands of the country’s increasingly repressive state security apparatus. He was detained at a Beijing airport on Sunday and led away by airport security personnel.

In January Chinese demolition workers tore down the Shanghai studio of the artist – a move that was linked to his political activism. Demolition crews arrived without warning on January 11, 2011 and flattened the building within a day.  He originally had permission to build the studio, but later officials ordered it to be destroyed, saying he had failed to follow planning procedures.

The Chinese government in the midst of the worst crackdown on free speech in at least a decade. Afraid that any mention of the “Jasmine Revolutions” sweeping the Middle East right now might lead to similar protests in China, Chinese authorities are cracking down hard. In the past month, dozens of Chinese bloggersand dissidents have been detained “disappeared”, and in less than 24 hours after his arrest, Ai’s name has been virtually erased from the Chinese internet.

Ai served as the Head Artistic Advisor for Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron’s design for the National Stadium for the Beijing Olympic games of 2008.

Ai Weiwei, Fountain of Light, 2007

Petition to Free Ai Weiwei >

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