“Demonstrators all over the world were sitting outside Chinese embassies on Sunday demanding the release of the detained Chinese artist Ai Weiwei.
Hundreds of protestors brought chairs onto the street tocall for the immediate release of Ai, and in support of the rights of all Chinese artists.
In Hong Kong there were scuffles as 150 protestors came up against lines of police, with reports of at least one detention. In Berlin, about 200 people took part in a largely silent protest. There was also a gathering outside the Chinese embassy in London.”
* Al Jazeera, “Protest in Hong Kong over Ai Weiwei detention”
You have spent a lot of time with Ai Weiwei over the last couple of years, during which time he has been increasingly publicly critical of the Chinese regime. Could you describe the issues about which he has been most vocal?
Ai’s denunciation of the Olympic Games and the Olympic stadium as the “false smile” of an authoritarian regime shed light on Weiwei’s activism in China, but the issue that he was most vocal about — and where he inserted himself into the Chinese conscience — was his citizen’s investigation into the deaths of more than 5,000 schoolchildren in poorly constructed schools during the May 2008 earthquake in Sichuan. Over his Twitter feed, Ai solicited over 70 volunteers to independently record the names, ages, classrooms and villages of the dead.
He has also persistently documented the detention, disappearance and judicial wrangling surrounding the imprisonment and sentencing of activists. His coverage of activists’ trials has been a constant thorn in the government’s side.
* Boston Globe, “Comedy” or tragedy? Ai Weiwei doesn’t come to Harvard (the art installation at Harvard)