(June 30, 2011) The Chinese Government may have released artist Ai Weiwei from his nearly three months in detention, but the terms of his bail gag him.
Quote of the week: “In legal terms, I’m – how do you say? – on bail. So I cannot give any interviews” Ai Weiwei
The Chinese government’s crackdown on dissent escalated on Sunday, April 3rd, 2011, with the detention of artist and architect Ai Weiwei. Ai, the man who helped design the Olympic Bird’s Nest stadium, has been on the government’s radar ever since the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, when he criticized corrupt government officials for building shoddy schools, which collapsed and killed thousands of students. Ai assembled a group of activists to compile a list of the school children killed, because the government wasn’t doing so.
Appalled by his extralegal detention, foreign governments and international rights groups called for Ai’s release, saying the authorities were punishing him for his activism.
On June 22, almost three months after he was “disappeared,” Ai was released on “bail” after allegedly confessing to his crimes of tax evasion, according to Chinese authorities. The terms of Ai’s bail seem to have silenced the once prolific and articulate critic who had some 88,000 Twitter followers.
Within days of his release, authorities arrived to serve him with papers itemizing the $733,333 that they claim he owes in back taxes and the $1 million in fines he must pay. His wife Lu Qing, who is legally responsible for Mr. Ai’s art company, Beijing Fake Cultural Development Ltd., says the accusations of tax evasion are without warrant. His lawyer Pu Zhiqiang says the documents accusing Ai of tax evasion lack specific details and evidence, such as the year(s) the tax infringement took place. Ai’s lawyer also says his client cannot check the allegations because authorities confiscated his accounting records during Ai’s detention, and have not returned them. Pu has appealed the tax ruling to the Beijing Local Taxation Bureau.
Ai Weiwei, it seems, has not been completely silenced.
We will chronicle this battle of wits between China’s most famous artist and the country’s security officials in the struggle for the rule of law.
To read more on Ai Weiwei’s detention, release, and now his tax appeal, follow the news right here.
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Hong Kong “Love the Future” Exhibit Supports Ai Weiwei, June 9, 2011, NTD Television
Harper No Help to Chinese Voices of Freedom, June 9, 2011, The Tyee
Pelosi calls for immediate release of Ai Weiwei, June 3, 2011, The Hill
Taipei awaits Ai Weiwei with 1001 chairs, June 4, 2011, Focus Taiwan
Told to Keep Low Profile, Chinese Artist Takes a Stand, June 3, 2011, New York Times
Zodiac sculptures display jailed Chinese artist’s vision
Ai Weiwei made fellow of U.K. art academy, June 2, 2011, CBC News
Royal Academy honours Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, June 2, 2011, Guardian
Beijing artists detained after homage to Ai Weiwei, June 2, 2011, Reuters
Committee to Protect Journalists, May 13, 2011, Media memorializing Sichuan earthquake censored
Reuters, May 12, 2011, Detained artist a further blow for China quake parents
Guardian, May 1, 2011, Fears in China as another human rights lawyer disappears
Reuters, April 29, 2011, Pro-Ai graffiti in Hong Kong sparks warning by Chinese army
The China Beat, April 27, 2011, A View on Ai Weiwei’s Exit
Globe and Mail, April 26, 2011, Rounding up the usual suspects
AFP, April 23, 2011, Over 1000 march in Hong Kong for Ai’s freedom
Chinese Human Rights Defenders, April 19, 2011, Individuals affected by the crackdown following call for “Jasmine Revolution”
Wall Street Journal, April 19, 2011, New film to offer close up view of Ai Weiwei
Los Angeles Times, April 18, 2011, Demonstrators in L.A. show support for Ai Weiwei
Probe International, April 15, 2011, Memo to Chinese government: no one believes you
The Globe and Mail, April 15, 2011, Uprooting the Chinese ‘jasmine revolution’
The Economist, April 14, 2011, China’s new rulers: Princelings and the goon state
The Economist, April 14, 2011, China’s crackdown
New York Times, April 14, 2011, Arts group calls for worldwide sit-in for Ai Weiwei
Toronto Star, April 14, 2011, 1001 chairs for Ai Weiwei, Toronto version
Dissent Magazine, April 13, 2011, The purge of Ai Weiwei
The Georgian Times, April 13, 2011, The Sunflower Revolutionary
The Guardian, April 13, 2011, Ai Weiwei ‘was offered advisory role before his detention’
The Economist, April 12, 2011, Ai Weiwei’s blog: A digital rallying cry
Voice of America, April 12, 2011, China baffled by support for imprisoned activist Ai Weiwei
Huffington Post, April 12, 2011, Meet Wen Tao, missing along with Ai Weiwei
Christian Science Monitor, April 12, 2011, Five famous jailed dissidents in China
Time Magazine, April 12, 2011, As art world rallies, Chinese officials summon Ai Weiwei’s wife
The Associated Press, April 12, 2011, EU official urges China to halt arbitrary arrests
The Calgary Herald, April 12, 2011, China detains artist’s driver
Newsweek, April 10, 2011, A provocateur finds out just how far he can go
The Herald Scotland, April 10, 2011, Dissent and disappearance
The Guardian, April 6, 2011, China media condemn ‘unruly’ Ai Weiwei
Voice of America, April 8, 2011, Extralegal detention of Ai Weiwei
The Guardian, April 3, 2011, Chinese police detain artist Ai Weiwei
Spero News, April 2, 2011, China: More than 200 arrests to quell the “Jasmine Revolution” in China
Who’s on notice: Ai Weiwei or the Chinese government?
Below is a Ted Talks video recently recorded by Ai Weiwei, and CNN interview with Ai from last year.