News / Asia

    China Releases Dissident Artist Ai

    Chinese avant-garde artist Ai Weiwei stands at the doorway to his home where he is under house arrest in Beijing Saturday, Nov. 6, 2010.
    Chinese avant-garde artist Ai Weiwei stands at the doorway to his home where he is under house arrest in Beijing Saturday, Nov. 6, 2010.

    Chinese authorities released dissident artist Ai Weiwei from house arrest on Monday - a little more than two days after detaining him at his compound in Beijing.  Ai's release comes as human rights activists say China is cracking down on dissent and international calls to free Nobel Peace Prize recipient Liu Xiaobo grow ahead of this week's G-20 summit in Seoul, South Korea.  

    Although artist dissident Ai Weiwei was unable to attend a protest party he had planned outside his soon to be demolished studio in Shanghai on Sunday, hundreds of his friends went ahead with the event.

    Ai says the fact that the party was still held is a sign of how China is changing.  Ai says he thinks the days of people censoring themselves and being afraid have passed.  He says many people, especially young people, "can freely show their smiles and have the courage to voice their own opinions."

    Ai's newly constructed million-dollar studio in Shanghai was ordered to be demolished after allegedly violating land use and construction laws.  Ai helped design the Bird's Nest stadium for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.  But the artist frequently has had run-ins with Chinese authorities.

    He was allowed to go to Munich last year for an exhibit criticizing the government's response to the 2008 Sichuan earthquake.  But several months earlier, he was severely beaten by police in Chengdu after having traveled there to testify in the trial of a fellow activist.

    Meanwhile, Nobel Peace Prize recipient Liu Xiaobo remains imprisoned in China where he is serving an 11 year sentence for trying to subvert the state.  Liu co-authored an online petition that called for democratic reform in China.

    Maran Turner, executive director of Freedom Now, which represents Liu Xiaobo as his international legal counsel, says Liu's situation has not changed since he was named the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize recipient last month. "His case before the Chinese courts has been exhausted, and so there is really no where to go in China.  We've taken his case to some international venues like the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to try to get him a fair hearing there.  But unfortunately, he is still sitting in prison with very few visits from his attorney or anyone else - certainly not his wife since she is sitting under house arrest," he said.

    Turner says Liu Xiaobo's wife been held under house arrest since early October and that the group has not heard from her for almost two weeks. "Her contact with the outside world has now been fully shut off, meaning her phones have been broken, her lines cut.  No Internet access.  No nothing.  What we heard previous to when that happened and when, I would say, the black hole happened.  She was being permitted to leave the house and go to the grocery store and things like that, but she was always accompanied by police officers," he said.

    In the weeks following the anouncement of Liu being named this year's Nobel peace prize winner, people who signed "Charter 08" -- the online political manifesto that Liu co-authored - have been placed under varying degrees of house arrest.

    Human rights groups say Chinese authorities are stepping up an apparent campaign to limit information about Liu receiving the Nobel Prize, harassing members of the Independent Chinese PEN Center, a writers' group that promotes freedom of expression.  The PEN American Center says members of the group in China have been questioned by authorities, harassed and put under house arrest.

    The Chinese government has accused the Nobel Committee of disrespecting China's judicial system and interfering in China's internal affairs for having name Liu as this year's peace prize winner.

    Freedom Now's Maran Turner says China has warned several countries through diplomatic channels not to focus on Liu and the award.

    But Turner says that as many as 15 Nobel Peace Prize winners have appealed to the leaders of the world's top 20 economies, asking them to help press Chinese President Hu Jintao during meetings this week in Seoul to release Liu Xiaobo and his wife. "China is doing its bit to make sure that everybody stays silent.  And this is one opportunity where these world leaders can speak to him directly and I urge them to take that opportunity," he said.

    The G-20 summit is scheduled for Thursday and Friday in Seoul.

    You May Like

    Candidates' Comments Fly Like New Hampshire Snowflakes

    Four days ahead of the country's first-in-the-nation Republican and Democratic party primary elections, surveys show the parties' contests tightening

    South Korea Says North Korea Moving Closer to Rocket Launch

    In phone call, US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping agree that Pyongyang's move would be 'provocative'

    Australian Commander: IS Changing Tactics

    Head of Australian forces in Middle East talks with VOA about training Iraqi troops, countering evolving Islamic State efforts and defeating extremism

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.