Go and see it! After seeing a film like AI WEIWEI: NEVER SORRY one gets a different perspective on ones own life and at least I go home from the movie like that eager to do more and work for causes I believe in while I am alive. Earlier this year I saw Fairy tale – a film by Ai Wei Wei about an art project involving 1001 Chinese people at Documenta art show. Also worth watching!
Ai Wei wei is China’s most famous international artist, and its most outspoken domestic critic. In China there is strict censorship and an unresponsive legal system but Ai Wei Wei expresses himself and organizes people through art and social media. That is why Chinese authorities have shut down his blog, beat him up, bulldozed his newly built studio (yes, they did tear down a NEW studio!), and held him in secret detention.
艾未未 Ai Weiwei uses twitter to communicate with his fellow chinese and we could follow his blog until he was detained on April 3rd 2011 on his way to a flight and held for 81 days…
From the blog where other bloggers updated news about Ai (Google translated):
“Chinese artist Ai Weiwei arrested on April 3, so far no news. Chinese leaders in the international call for the release of Ai Weiwei did not get any response. The Neumann therefore again stressed the need to continue to send a political appeal….Neumann said, the person in charge … often spoke bluntly about Ai Weiwei suffered injustice. Must continue to ask the Chinese government to release Ai Weiwei. He said that “international pressure will also be of help, I have no doubt….. he is the representative of the artists of all detainees, … Neumann therefore thinks, “Ai Weiwei rights and freedom to fight, is the fight against all suffered oppression and dictatorship artists in the world.” Well said!
And more updates by other bloggers on Ai’s blog:
“For seven consecutive weeks, the illegal detention of the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei without charge “huge amount” of tax evasion. Is implementation of Ai Weiwei under house arrest, authorities said. But his family believes that the authorities silence government critics. Detained artist Ai Weiwei’s family dismissed the tax evasion allegations. Ai Weiwei’s sister Saturday told Deutsche Presse-Agentur reporter in Beijing, the 54-year-old Ai Weiwei obviously can not expect there will be a fair judicial process. She said: “I think they want him to silence”….
…Xinhua News Agency also confirmed for the first time, the artist was not formally detained, but in a “residential surveillance”. Legal experts analyze that the police can evade the provisions of the arrest warrant must be issued within a specified period of time. Xinhua also quoted police sources said Ai Weiwei’s right to meet with his family “is protected by law”. This obviously means Ai Weiwei’s wife Lu Qing last Sunday in an unknown location in the police arranged a meeting with Ai Weiwei. She said: “… we are convinced that this information should be announced through legal channels by the police, rather than by the Xinhua News Agency.”
Ai Weiwei is already four years under police surveillance, early April this year, he was suddenly taken away. Have passed such a long time, the police investigation has not yet a clear result.. Ai Weiwei Studio 4 staff have also been taken away, including an accountant and a business partner: “we have far too many questions to ask.” When reporters asked about the possible motives of the police they refused to talk. She only hoped that relevant departments to comply with legal process.”
And his mother who we also see in the film is old but engages in the protests in her own way (from Ai’s blog):
“The elderly mother of detained Chinese artist Ai Weiwei has learned how to bypass China’s draconian online censorship regime to keep watch over the international campaign calling on China’s leaders to free her son. Ai Weiwei’s mother leaps the ‘Great Wall of China’ Ai Weiwei plays with his installation Sunflower Seeds, at its opening in the Tate Modern (REUTERS) Peter Foster By Peter Foster, Beijing 11:44AM BST 23 May 2011 Follow Peter Foster on Twitter Man behind ‘Great Firewall of China‘ pelted with eggs In a practice known as “leaping the Wall” that is usually the preserve of tech-savvy Chinese students, 78-year-old Gao Ying has been employing sophisticated Virtual Proxy Network (VPN) software on her computer. The technology is essential to keep track of Ai Weiwei’s well-wishers and campaigners who use social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube which are all banned by China’s so-called ‘net nannies’. “She told me she bought a computer not long ago and learned how to surf internet and how to ‘fanqiang’ (cross the Great Firewall),” Liu Xiaoyuan, a lawyer and family friend said on his microblog after visiting the family in Beijing. Ai, a fierce critic of China’s government and the creators of last year’s Tate Modern exhibition Sunflower Seeds, has now been in detention for 50 days without access to any legal representation….
….Fears that Ai was being physically mistreated were eventually allayed after Ai’s wife, Lu Qing, was allowed to her husband for 20 minutes after he had been in custody for 43 days without any word to the outside world. However Ai’s family say they remain frustrated at the legal limbo in which Ai and his associates are now apparently trapped. “We cannot even appoint a lawyer because we still have not received official notification of any charges. We know only what we read on Xinhua,” Ai’s sister Gao Ge told The Telegraph, “We want this case to be handled openly and transparently and want to be notified as soon as possible.” At least four other associates – his driver, company accountant, designer and a journalist-friend – have also been held cut off from the outside world as China’s authorities investigate what the state news agency Xinhua reports to be “tax evasion” charges. Friends, family and supporters say such charges are politically motivated, and even if true, do not justify the manner in which Ai has been held, with such scant regard for due process and natural justice. Under Chinese law Ai can be held for six months under ‘house surveillance’ without access to a lawyer, but usually in such circumstances he should also be able to receive phone-calls and family visits, according to lawyers. The family and their supporters are also extremely concerned about the status of Ai’s four associates who were scooped up by the state security apparatus up within hours of Ai’s detention at Beijing Airport on April 3. They fear that the four associates of Ai’s Fake Design studio – accountant Hu Mingfen, friend and former journalist Wen Tao, driver Zhang Jinsong and design consultant Liu Zhenggang – are being held to build the case against Ai. “It it is possible that they want these employees to be witnesses or to ‘confess’ against Ai,” added Ms Gao, “we need transparency and details of any case as soon as possible.”
And his staff were arrested/taken away too:
“We are legal persons and families of employees of the Beijing Fake Cultural Development Co., Ltd., we reflect nearly two months to four employees and a friend are kidnapped, missing, the public security organs immediately initiate an investigation:
Wentao, male, 37 years old, fat the Lesson corporate friends the April 3 forcibly taken away by four unidentified men in the vicinity of the company, was kidnapped and missing for 69 days.
Hu Mingfen, female, 55 years old, Fake Ltd. cashier. Her family said she left home on April 7 to go to work. Unable to connect her phone on April 8, missing for 64 days.
Liu Zhenggang, male, 49 years old, Fake Ltd. designer. At 19:00 on April 9, in his car with his wife in a residence district is located in the Haidian District, four men in civilian clothes forcibly taken away, kidnapped missing for 63 days.
Zhang Jinsong, male, 43 years old, drivers Fake Ltd. lost contact Caochangdi Village with friends after breaking up at 1:00 on April 10th, missing for 63 days.
Above kidnapped, missing after the incident, family members, friends, more than ten times go the Chaoyang District Nangao police station, the Haidian District Dazhongsi police station to report, but the police station refused to issue a report receipt refused to initiate an investigation, so far, no reply.”
And finally -it is the last update on his blog – some good news, but there is no more blog entrees after this – that is how you silence a critic! But we can help by shouting and making a noise – we are allowed to do it and how many take the opportunity?
“81 days, Ai Weiwei back.
He can not go abroad, you can not leave Beijing, you can not contact the media …
He lifted once happily as he worked for seven years, Zhao Zhao.
Break it, waiting is a way of life.”
China (and Russia) seems to become ever more undemocratic, not respecting human life and human rights and less transperant at the same time as they are getting more poweful….
- Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry (wnyc.org)
- ‘Twitter Is My City’: Ai Weiwei on Living Life Online (theatlantic.com)
- Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry – review (guardian.co.uk)
- Risky Business – China Cracks Down On Ai Weiwei Protege Zhao (freeinternetpress.com)
- Ai Weiwei: Combining Art and Political Dissidence (smallgroupofthoughtfulpeople.com)
- Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry review: Unblinking portrait of a rebellious and brave artist (dailymail.co.uk)