20 November 2012
International Day To End Impunity: Nov. 23 - Case of Ai Weiwei (Artist, China)
You might know Ai Weiwei for his design of the 2008 Beijing Olympics Bird"s Nest stadium, the photo of his middle finger raised at Tiananmen Square, or even his take on Gangnam Style. What you may not know is that in China, the celebrated artist is an enemy of the state.
You might know Ai Weiwei for his design of the 2008 Beijing Olympics Bird"s Nest stadium, the photo of his middle finger raised at Tiananmen Square, or even his take on Gangnam Style. What you may not know is that in China, the celebrated artist is an enemy of the state. Soon after he began a "citizens" investigation" of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake in which thousands of children were killed as shabbily built schools collapsed his clashes with the authorities intensified. In June 2009, the Chinese government shut down his blog, which still remains blocked. Not long after, he suffered a police beating that caused a brain hemorrhage and made art out of his scan. None of the officers were held accountable for their violence. Last year Ai was jailed for 81 days without charge, taken to a secret police cell and put under round-the-clock guard. Ai has spent the past few months fighting a 15 million yuan (US$2.4 million) fine for what he says is a fabricated charge of tax evasion. Police told him in private the fine was to discredit him for criticising the government publicly. However, within 10 days Ai had raised nearly 9 million yuan in bail (US$1.4 million) over social media. "There"s no doubt we lost the case in court," he says, "but we won public opinion and moral support." In recent months, Ai says, the police stopped following him, and he"s become accustomed to the 15 surveillance cameras around his compound. Still, Ai couldn"t leave China to attend the opening of his first North American show in October because Beijing won"t release his passport. He continues to be erased from Chinese media. An Internet search for "Ai Weiwei" in China returns nothing. Twitter where you can find him prolifically tweeting (@aiww) and Facebook are hardly accessible. When asked why he keeps fighting the state at great risk to himself and with so few of China"s billion people knowing who he is, he says, "If artists cannot speak up for human dignity or rights, then who else will do it?" Stand with Ai Weiwei and defend free expression. A special thank you to Alison Klayman, Director of Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, for contributing to this action. Stand with Ai Weiwei and give impunity the finger. Click on the images below to view the gallery, and upload your own photo. Share this action: http://daytoendimpunity.org/calendar/?action=20