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.
William Ide

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

Multimedia VOA SPECIAL REPORT: US Army Turns Its Best Minds Toward Ebola

Scientists at America's premier biological research center race to find effective drugs, speedier tests and a safe vaccine amid the deadliest outbreak of Ebola in history More

Kurdish Poet Battles to Defend Language, Culture

Kawa Nemir's work is an example of what he sees as an irreversible cultural and political assertiveness among Kurds in Turkey More

Dissident Venezuelan General Resurfaces in New York

Antonio Rivero has resurfaced after nearly a year in hiding, appearing at United Nations in New York More

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.
Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Goghi
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid