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

Photogallery Belgian Security Measures Foreshadow New Normal for Europe

Rising threat of terrorism, disaffected Muslim populations and open borders, along with refugee, migrant crisis, are creating perfect storm for Europe, which some analysts fear continent is ill-suited to weather

Competing Claims of Responsibility for Mali Hotel Attack

Malian authorities ask public for help in identifying gunmen killed in attack, amid conflicting claims of responsibility from multiple jihadist groups active in the country

Video Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

This forum has been closed.
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.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs